Tag Archives: blogger collaborations

OKMH – It’s baaaack!

One Kitchen Many Hearts – it’s a box exchange program we started last year among a small group of blogging friends. Every other month, we send a box of local, handmade and/or favorite goodies to another blogger on a rotating basis. By the end of the year, each of us has received a box of love from everyone on the list. Last year was so much fun we hated to see it end, so it won’t! With absolutely no arm twisting, we’ve decided to continue for another year.

OKMH Collage 2013

My first OKMH box of 2013 came from Allison of Decadent Philistines Save the World. Here’s what she sent from her neck o’ the woods (AZ):

OKMH - Feb13 - the loot

Yeehaw! That’s a big pile of fun! Let’s take a closer look. First up is the card. I almost ruined a panty liner laughing at this cutie patotootie.

OKMH - Feb13 - Cutest Card

Allison knows me well. If there’s two things I love in life, it’s squirrels and corn. I joke with The Complete Package that some day we’ll retire to a squirrel ranch where we’ll sit on the porch each night, sipping whiskey and watching the ‘herd’ come in over the hills for the evening. Because I’m weird like that.

Speaking of hooch, check out this Scottish style ale called Kilt Lifter.

OKMH - Feb13 - Kiltlifter

She had me at kilt. After a few of these, you can bet I’ll want to know what’s under the kilt. I’m hanging on to it for a little while so I can pair it with a big fat toasty rueben or pastrami sandwich. Or maybe a batch of Beer Bread.

I jumped for joy when I pulled this next bottle from the box:

OKMH - Feb13 - Prickly Pear Syrup

It’s syrup made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. It’s sweet & tart and fabulous. Yes it would be great on pancakes or drizzled over ice cream, but my mind went straight to margaritas. Have you ever had a cocktail you can’t stop thinking about? Well, one of mine was a big frozen margarita swirled with this lovely elixir. It was probably 8 years ago at a business dinner in downtown Houston, and I still think of it fondly. For me, this stuff is liquid gold.

Remember Sweets Week? I made my retro Raspberry Divinity. Allison made Lemon Marshmallows. I’m thinking we should schedule all future theme week endeavors so that they publish just before our OKMH boxes are shipped, because I got a bag of these beauties:

OKMH - Feb13 - Lemon Marshmallows

Big soft fluffy lemon marshmallows. It goes without saying these are NOT the dry spongy flavorless version you find at grocery stores. These are the perfect texture with a burst of lemon zest that makes your tongue tingle, and they are lovely. One died instantly; the rest are being rationed for maximum pleasure.

Our theme this month was “Winter Essentials” and Allison outdid herself by crafting a handmade scarf in my favorite colors – blue & green.

OKMH - Feb13 - Handmade Scarf

It’s so delicate and light as a feather. I cannot imagine the number of hours spent creating it. What a treasure! We don’t really experience winter down here, but this lightweight beauty is perfect for those occasional chilly evenings. Thank you hardly seems adequate when someone puts this much time & love into a project, but THANK YOU, ALLISON!

Did you notice that snowflake in the background? All of the gift tags were made from hand-crafted paper snowflakes – the closest thing to snow we ever get on the southern coast. Not that I’m complaining (okay, I’m complaining).

OKMH - Feb13 - snowflake tags

I’ve saved the best surprise for last. This one really knocked my socks off because it was so unexpected. Remember the felt mouse tutorial I posted last month? Well, look who just got an A on her homework:

OKMH - Feb13 - Little Cutie

Oh my goodness! Isn’t she adorable? Here’s what Allison had to say about her.

“Her name is Mousidora, from the Greek that means “from the Muses.” She’s so named because I felt inspired to make her. Obviously she is a coffee drinker, and while she’ll take a splash of cream, she prefers it strong and black. That being said, she won’t say no to a wee nip of cheddar schnapps, if you know what I mean. Keeps the chill off. Her scarf is functional, but of course it’s a good look for her as well. Mousidora takes great pains to look good, even when it’s cold outside. She knows that the cranberry sets off the sparkle in her eyes. Mousidora’s hobbies include antiquing, lunching with her lady-mice friends, and betting on the ponies. She’s as sharp as a tack and likes a good nosh.”

Words cannot describe how fun it was to find this little sweetie. She and her tiny ‘cup-a-joe’ are forever perched on my kitchen coffee station so we can enjoy our morning brew together (like the bag of Sumatran coffee beans Allison included – yum). We’ll just be sipping our coffee under the Eiffel Tower, sharing our plans for the day and expressing our gratitude for great friends like Allison.

OKMH - Feb13 - Mousidora's Perch

I swear, we could do this for 100 years and I would never tire of these boxes.

If you’d like to see what I sent to our newest member of the OKMH tribe, visit Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen. Since it was her first ever OKMH Box, I may have gone a smidge overboard. I wanted her first adventure with our group to be one she would never forget. From there, you can also visit the other ladies and peek inside their boxes by clicking on any of these links:

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Megan @ Country Cleaver
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
Mads @ La Petite Pancake
Allison @ Decadent Philistines

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love

Sweets Week: Retro Raspberry Divinity & a sweet little giveaway for bakers

Divinity - Pans & Cups

That’s right, folks – this ain’t no modern homemade marshmallow trend. We’re kickin’ it old school with divinity, baby! This raspberry version is sure to soothe your savage sugar craving. It’s retro. It’s fluffy. And it’s pretty in pink.

Valentines’ Day may be for lovers, but let’s not forget that it’s also an excuse to celebrate SUGAR. Candy, chocolates, cupcakes, creme brulee… you name it, we’ll eat it. So join my blogging friends and I as we stop lookin’ for love in all the wrong places and start rummaging through the pantry for something sweet.

It’s Sweets Week, and we’re celebrating with sweets for your sweetie pies.

When I was a kid, my mother made divinity every Christmas. I remember little balls of white fluffy confection laced with chopped pecans like it was yesterday. While most kids were getting their divinity fix from a Stuckey’s Pecan Log, our Mom was shaming other mothers by making it at home. Mom rocked the 70’s.

The Pecan Log from Stuckey's - a blast from some poor kid's past. Photo via http://brucemctague.com/pecan-logs

The Pecan Log from Stuckey’s – a blast from some poor kid’s past. Photo credit to http://brucemctague.com/pecan-logs

But this ain’t my Mama’s divinity. This version is cooler. It’s hipper. And did I mention it’s PINK? That hue is due to yet another childhood favorite – Jello. That’s right. Good old-fashioned Jello. Raspberry to be exact, although I’ve also made this with cherry and I’m pretty sure it would rock in blackberry, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light (clear) corn syrup
3/4 cup water
3 egg whites
1 small (3-oz.) pkg. Jello (raspberry is shown)
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by lightly oiling an 11″ x 7″ pan, or you can use 4 miniature loaf pans like me. I sprayed them with regular Pam cooking spray, then wiped them gently with a paper towel so they were lightly oiled.

Next, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium or large saucepan (you’ll need 4-5″ of headroom, because this will come to a furious boil and rise in the pan). Set it over medium-high heat and whisk it occasionally until it reaches 260F on a candy thermometer.

Divinity - Boiling the Syrup

When the sugar syrup reaches around 200F, start your egg whites. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip your egg whites until soft peaks begin to form.

Divinity - Whipping Egg Whites

Lower the speed and sprinkle in the Jello powder, whisking until combined.

Divinity - Adding Jello to Egg Whites

Turn the speed up to high and continue to beat until the Jello powder is incorporated and the egg whites hold their peaks.

Divinity - Egg Whites & Jello

Once the syrup mixture reaches 260F, turn the mixer to medium-low and slowly pour a thin stream of syrup into the egg whites until all of the syrup has gradually been added. DO NOT STOP THE MIXER WHILE ADDING THE HOT SYRUP MIXTURE OR YOU WILL SCRAMBLE YOUR EGG WHITES! Sorry for the drama, but it’s a divinity no-no to stop the mixer & scramble the eggs.

Divinity - Whipping in the Syrup

Once all of the syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to high and let it run for 6-8 minutes, or until the candy mixture begins to get very thick. I just set the timer and went for the full 8 minutes. Better safe than sorry, I always say.

Divinity - Ready to Spread

Turn off the mixer and remove the beater. At this point, the divinity will be thick and glossy. Using a spatula, fold in the pecans and vanilla extract by hand.

Divinity - Stir in Nuts & Vanilla

Pour the candy mixture into the prepared pan(s) and smooth evenly. If yours sets up as quickly as mine did, you may need to lightly spray your spatula or hands with additional cooking spray to keep the candy from sticking to it.

Now the hard part – set your pan(s) on a kitchen towel somewhere out of the way and let it sit for at least 6-8 hours to completely firm up. I put mine on our formal dining room table because we haven’t used it for a meal since 1992.

Once it’s set, cut into 1″ squares with a lightly oiled knife; a serrated bread knife works best. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Divinity - Final Cut

Fun Facts About Divinity:
1. Humidity and Divinity are not friends; they do not play well together.
2. Divinity should never be refrigerated; apparently it doesn’t like cold, either.
3. Most candy, divinity included, should not be made on a rainy day (see #1).
4. Unless they are ‘of a certain age’ your friends may not recognize divinity.
5. Just tell those friends you made ‘marshmallows with nuts’ – it’s simpler.

Recipe Credit: This appeared in Womans Day Magazine when Ronald Reagan was president. I tore it out & saved it when I was but a wee child. {cough}

Now on to the giveaway! One lucky reader will win the following baking booty in honor of Sweets Week:

Sweets Week Giveaway Bar - Vertical

This prize package includes: one copy of the Good Housekeeping Best Loved Desserts cookbook with more than 250 glorious recipes, two adorable ceramic mini-crocks in cherry red, two packages of treat wrappers by Martha Stewart, my favorite bowl-scraping silicone spatula in Valentine’s red, a sweetheart print quilted apron, and a matching kitchen towel in raspberry.

Note: My friend Katie, The Hill Country Cook, introduced me to these sweet little single-serving ceramic crocks. You’re going to love them!

To enter, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me your favorite sweet treat. This giveaway will run from 8:00am CST on Sunday, February 10th through 12:00 Noon CST on Saturday, February 16, 2013. One winner will be selected at random and notified by e-mail. If the reader selected does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn. Participation is limited to US residents only.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO LAUREN GRIER, OUR WINNER! (Lauren, check your e-mail for details.)

sweetsweekbadge

Sweets Week is for sugar lovers, so drop in & check out these Sweetie Pies:

Sunday:
Retro Raspberry Divinity – Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head (that’s me!)
Red Velvet Vanilla Marble Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Monday:
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies – Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Mini Meringue Strawberry Pie – Katie @ The Hill Country Cook

Tuesday:
Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti – Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten
Samoa Crack Dip – Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama

Wednesday:
Avocado Peppermint Chocolate Mousse – Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain
Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark – Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver

Thursday:
S’Mores on a Stick – Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting – Mads @ La Petite Pancake

Friday:
‘Pucker Up’ Lemon Marshmallows – Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Saturday:
Berry Smoothie Ice Cream Pie & a Giveaway – Anne @ From My Sweet Heart

Divinity - Cake Stand

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

You heard me… Beer Week. And I’m not a beer drinker. There, I said it. It feels good to put it out there from the very beginning. My name is NanaBread and I am not a beer drinker. I never really have been, except for this one time in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the very early 80’s when I drank half-frozen slushy beer loaded with green olives. And it was delicious. If you’re not a drinker, stay with me. There’s a cake later in this post. I promise.

When Beer Week was proposed by my blogging friends and I was intimidated. But then I made beer bread and saw a few chocolate stout cakes on Pinterest, so after some research I embraced our Beer Week with open arms. In fact, I embraced it so well I ordered and drank two beer samplers on vacation in Vancouver. Here’s what I tried (for the team, of course):

The Sampler at Granville Island Brewing Co., Vancouver

Yeah. Doesn’t look like something a non-beer drinker would order, does it? For this one, The Complete Package helped out. It was a good plan – he enjoyed the boring flavors (pale ale, lager) and I enjoyed sampling the more exotic flavors (raspberry, honey, maple cream). Check this out:

The laminated Tasting Map was the best coaster ever & so informative!

What I liked best about this Granville Island Brewing sampler was that their flavored beers were gently flavored. Raspberry beer can be obnoxious, but this one was gently kissed with raspberry flavor. And it was lovely. My favorite was the maple cream ale. Second favorite was the one placed in the “Limited Release” section of the tasting mat – Ginger. Mmmm… ginger. And third place goes to the honey lager. Hard to describe, but so very easy to drink.

Next up (and several days later, I promise) was the Irish sampler from Mahony & Sons at Canada Place in Vancouver. The Complete Package abandoned me and ordered his own beer, so I was on my own for this sampler. I did what any team player would do – I cracked my knuckles and rolled my head to loosen up my shoulders and dug in. “We can do this!” It’s our family motto. TCP’s beer:

He wanted something light to go with salmon. Tsk.

Compared to his, mine looks like a Party on a Plank. This one included four Irish classics – 6 ounces each of Smithwick’s, Harp, Kilkenny and Guinness.

Slainte! (SLAHN-chə) – that’s Old Irish for ‘good health’ or something like that

I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.

Light & refreshing, but still a lager. Meh.

Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.

Oooo… I liked this one a lot; so I set it aside so I could savor it later.

Third – the Smithwick’s.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – it was just okay; sorry, Smithwick.

And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.

Gorgeous, if a beer can be called that; who can resist that foam?

And that leads us to Beer Week. I chose the Guinness and I paired it with dark chocolate, then smothered it in a Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Want a sneak peek? Here ya’ go.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream

Here’s how I made the dark chocolate stout cake:
(adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist‘s bundt cake)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment or a silpat mat, then spray with Pam for Baking or grease & flour liberally; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly to all edges and corners. Tap gently on the counter, then pop it into the oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche caramel
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua (or espresso, cooled)

In a saucepan, combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and caramel; arm over low heat, whisking until the caramel is melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool; refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put mine in my KitchenAid mixer bowl and placed the whole thing in the fridge so the bowl & cream were both cold). Once properly chilled, place the bowl onto the mixer and whip until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and Kahlua and continue to beat until it begins to thicken. In my case, stiff peaks did not form and that’s okay. It’s all going to be layered with cake in a minute.

To assemble:

1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).

Baking it in a jelly roll pan makes the cake layers about 1/2″ thick.

2. Use a round metal biscuit cutter to cut the cake into circles. How big should your circles be? That depends on what you’re building your layers in. Measure your jar or glass to determine which size cutter or can to use, then cut the cake into circles. One jellyroll pan yielded 30 cake circles for me.

A metal biscuit cutter makes quick work of cutting the layers.

3. To pipe the whipped cream, I like to spoon mine into a ziploc-style plastic bag. It helps to put that bag into a glass and fold the top edge of the bag over the glass. Once the bag is full, pull it out of the glass, press out the excess air and zip it shut.

My favorite piping tool – a plastic bag; makes for easy clean up, too.

4. Using a pair of scissors, snip the corner off the bag just before you start piping whipped cream. I like to keep a small but deep mixing bowl nearby so I can set the bag down without it falling over and spilling out.

Snip the corner and start piping; when you’re done, throw it away.

5. Start by placing a cake round in the bottom of your jar or glass; top with a 1/2″ layer of whipped cream, then continue to rotate cake and cream layers.

Start with cake & work your way up to within 3/4″ of the top.

6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.

A layer of the whipped cream goes on top.

Then a nice spoonful of caramel goes on top of the cream.

Then sprinkle with cake crumbs. Nothing goes to waste.

6. If you’re using serving glasses, cover them with plastic wrap and keep them refrigerated until just before serving. If you’re using canning jars, place a lid and ring on the top and tighten gently. Then feel free to decorate any way you see fit. I went with burlap and ribbon, and I was happy with the way they turned out.

That’s burlap held with a rubber band; rustic yet decorative.

Finish with a pretty brown satin ribbon & suddenly it’s fancy.

And that is my version of Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. My favorite thing about this dessert is… everything. I love how they look layered in jars. I love that the jars make them portable. I love that these were even better the next day, which means you can make them in advance and have more free time to entertain. It also means the leftovers (if any) will keep getting better and better until they’re gone.

Oh, yeah…there’s the money shot. Someone pass me a spoon.

Trust me, these go fast and they go down smooth – even if you’re not a beer drinker. If you are, then these are just the thing, lassie. Cures what ales ya’.

Now who’s ready for another round?
Visit these Beer Week bloggers throughout the week to see what they’re up to:

Monday:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro

Tuesday:
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – shares her thoughts on Beer Week as well as a recipe for Pumpkin Beer Bread – just in time for fall
and
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!

Wednesday:
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
and
Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – tries to steal The Complete Package from me with her Pale Ale Shrimp Po’Boy; it’s one of his all-time favorites

Thursday:
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
and
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.

Friday:
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
and
Allison at Decadent Philistines – takes Four Peaks Brewery Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale to new levels with a spicy German mustard, ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries and Maple-Ale Ice Cream; some people are just overachievers.

Saturday:
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
and
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
and
Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – thinks outside the box with hard cider and a fabulous Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque; this is why I love fall.

I’ll be your mouth is watering now, isn’t it? I’ll be updating the links above throughout the week, so stay tuned. Beer Week may just prove to be our greatest endeavor to date. Cheers!

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Travel Tales