It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Girls Scouts cookies are here!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Girl Scout Cookie Time is a fun annual tradition that many of us look forward to, if for no other reason than our own bit of nostalgia. remembering our own efforts at sales — or getting to eat them!

My first memory of Girl Scout cookies and still a favorite of mine, is the shortbread Trefoils. I don’t remember which came first:  eating them or selling them.   Our Granddaughter – a Brownie Scout this year and yes – selling cookies! – announced that the Samoas are 40 years old this year. I was shocked! …and prompted to look into the Girl Scout Cookie History.It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

An icon of American culture for nearly 100 years, the tradition, efforts and experiences offered to the Girl Scouts  through cookie sales has provided valuable life skills in leadership, personal development, confidence, and community involvement.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!As early as 1917, just five years after Girl Scouting in America was started by Juliette Gordon Low, the sale of cookies has been  a way for troops to finance activities. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Girl Scouts across the country, in partnership with their mothers, baked simple sugar cookies, and sold them door-to-door, packaged by the dozen in waxed paper bags sealed with a sticker. Get the Recipe below! It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

The Greater Philadelphia Council was the first to sell commercially baked cookies (1934) and the Girl Scout Federation of New York purchased a die in the shape of Trefoil and used the words, “Girl Scout Cookies” on the boxes being sold (1935). The very next year, (1936) the  national Girl Scout association began the process to license the first commercial baker to produce cookies that would be sold nationwide by girls in Girl Scout councils. And the rest, we might say is “History”!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Cookies were replaced with calendars during World War II with shortages of the key ingredients of Sugar, Flour and Butter. After the war, the sale of cookies resumed and three varieties were offered: Shortbread, Peanut Butter Sandwich, and Chocolate Mint.

A few year later, the flavors had evolved to a vanilla-based filled cookie, a chocolate-based filled cookie, shortbread, and the chocolate mint. Since the mid-1960s, a few more varieties have been offered, with the most popular and best sellers still the Shortbread, Chocolate Mint , and the Peanut Butter Sandwich. Now known as Trefoils, Thin Mints, and Do-si-dos, these continue to be the top sellers with the Samoas catching up in popularity!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!The cookie boxes have also undergone a steady transformation. Now, bright and colorful, they depict scenes of Girl Scouts in action: hiking, canoeing, biking and promoting the benefits of Girl Scouting.

As early as the 1950s, and with the growth of suburbia, Girl Scout Cookies began being sold by girls at tables in shopping malls.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

 

Images and information from Girl Scout.org

 

GIRL SCOUT COOKIE RECIPE

An article  by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois, was published in The American Girl magazine in July 1922, by Girl Scout nationeal headquarters. In the article, Miss Neil provided a cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Cookie, circa 1922

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • additional sugar for topping (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • • 1 teaspoon salt
  • • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
  2. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/2015/02/01/girl-scout-cookie-time/

Bûche de Nöel

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Bûche de Nöel

Bûche de Nöel

 Christmas Yule Log Cake — a traditional French Cake for the Holiday Season.

You will see it in many shapes, colors, and flavors. The recipe is quite basic: cake, filling, and frosting… and is fairly simple to make. I’ve seen many variations but only tasted a few.

I still like my recipe the best! Besides coming from a dear friend in Provence, France (so it is quite authentic) I think it has the best flavor and texture. The frosting is a rich French Butter Cream (Lots of butter!). Since we have a family member who doesn’t eat chocolate (yes – there are a few  non-chocoholics around!!), we make a vanilla version for both the cake and butter cream filling adding a touch of coffee flavor to the frosting to give it a little darker color.

Assembling is easy: once the rolled cake is filled and re-rolled, a simple diagonal slice off one (or both) ends provides a ‘branch’ (or two). With the diagonal cut tucked against the main ‘log’ and a second piece perched on top, the Bûche de Nöel takes shape looking like a branch of a tree. A simple squigle through the frosting with a fork and … voila! you have the look of bark. Further adoration of greenery (either pine twigs, rosemary sprigs or even plastic representations,) and other Christmas-y ornamentation (mini balls, figurines, or try edible sugared cranberries) followed by a light dusting of powdered sugar and you have the proper Yule Log – a Bûche de Nöel.

Bûche de Nöel

Ingredients

    CAKE
  • 6 eggs - separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 c flour (sift 2x)
  • BUTTER CREAM for Frosting and Filling
    chocolate:
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 tsp rum or vanilla extract

Instructions

    Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Prepare a jelly roll pan with buttered waxed or parchment paper
  3. In mixer, beat egg yolks & sugar until foamy and light colored
  4. With mixer on low, add flour and baking powder (sprinkling)
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until firm.
  6. Gently fold beaten egg white with flower & egg mixture
  7. Pour into prepared pan and gently spread evenly over pan
  8. Bake 10 minutes
  9. Lay a towel on the counter and dust lightly w/sugar. As soon as the cake is ready invert on the towel.
  10. Roll up the cake loosely rolling the towel with it
  11. Cool 10 min
  12. Meanwhile prepare butter cream
  13. Butter Cream Filling & Frosting
  14. Cream butter and sugar until smooth
  15. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each
  16. Add melted choc and rum or vanilla extract
  17. Assemble Log
  18. Unroll cake & spread with about half the butter cream
  19. Re-roll cake very carefully (without towel this time!)
  20. Cut ends of the cake on a diagonal slice and set the small piece on top of the cake or on the side for desired effect.
  21. Spread the rest of the frosting over the cake
  22. Decorate by simulating bark or wood designed with the tip of a fork
  23. Add 'greenery', ornaments, berries, figurines as desired
  24. Dust lightly over all with powdered sugar
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/2014/12/25/buche-de-noel/

 

 

Authentic French Provincial Recipe and photo by Great Food Fun Places

 

 

 

Turkey Treat?

Turkey Treat?

For the non-Turkey lovers and others who might want an alternative, this is an interesting option!

Turkey Treat?

Then again, could it just be considered Edible Food Art?

 

Rice Crispy Treats, artfully formed into a turkey roasted turkey shape and stuffed with M&Ms providing a sweet alternative to the real deal or at least a turkey-themed dessert.

Tag this to use next Thanksgiving or for those who like turkey for Christmas dinner- use it this year!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake- Let’s Eat CAKE!

 Let’s Eat CAKE!

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Just in time for Thanksgiving, this delicious Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting is quick and easy to make.

The aroma of this Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake while baking filled the house with that lovely scent of the season – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The pumpkin gives it a nice moist consistency and blends nicely with pineapple, coconut, and currants. The batter seemed a bit stiff, similar to a muffin mixture, but the cooled cake layers were so tender, they started to break when handled (wrapping it for the refrigerator overnight).Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting is lovely with a dollop of pumpkin giving it a light off-white color and delicate – almost imperceptible – pumpkin flavor. I especially like this frosting recipe for being less sweet than most cream cheese frostings. It has only 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar for the 1 cup each of butter and cream cheese and doesn’t overpower or dominate the rich cake. Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Too rich for large slices, the moist density allows for smaller slivers of slices to be served.

Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lovely Pumpkin Spice Cake was served at our pre-Thanksgiving family dinner and was the hit of the dessert options!

 

Get the Epicurious.com recipe here

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

“Fine Italian Dining”

in San Diego’s Downtown Gaslamp District

Out on the town for an evening of dinner and a concert, we chose a restaurant in the Gaslamp district of San Diego.  de’Medici Cucina Italiana is only a couple blocks from the Balboa Theater, the Lyceum Theater and a parking garage near Horton Plaza in the Gaslamp District. Great location and SO easy to get to!!

de' Medici Cucina ItalianaThe owner, Salvatore Vitale – “just call me Sal!” – posed for a photo.  Very friendly and very solicitous, Sal went around to the tables several times checking on his patrons, all the time keeping an absolute eagle eye on the servers and the kitchen.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici offers alfresco dining and on this  beautiful balmy evening their alfresco area was packed!    The interior has a lovely ambiance and we want to eat in there next time, but this evening was too beautiful to be eating inside and we joined the others dining in the open air – alfresco!

 

First, we were served a kind of garlic bread that had a kind of pesto spread on it (really delicious). Sorry, I didn’t think to find out more about it, nor did I think to take a picture!

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

Our Caesar salad (Fabulous!) was made table-side by our delightful waiter, Antonio.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

In between the salad and the entree we were served lime sorbet — to cleanse our palate!

Even though it’s fine “Italian” dining – and we do want to go back and eat our way through the Pasta list! – we both ended up getting the filet mignon and lobster tail combo.  Wow! The filet mignon had a port wine-reduction sauce and cut like butter. The lobster tail was done to absolute perfection.

And for dessert? Tempting choices of  Tiramisu, Cannoli, Profiterolls, Gelato Berries, Cream Brulee, Floating Island….the list goes on…  Sadly, we weren’t able to sample (or even get a look at) any of these delectable desserts as we had to leave for the concert. Another return engagement is required to eat our way through the desserts along with the Pasta List

de' Medici Cucina Italianade’Medici Cucina Italiana has an “Excellent” rating from Zagat. I never thought I’d ever have the chance to eat in a Zagat “Excellent” rated restaurant – that’s heady stuff!    And yet, we found de’ Medici to be very reasonably priced for such a fancy restaurant.

“From the Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco to the award winning Sole Portofino, de’Medici signature dishes are a feast to be remembered.”

Visit the website of de’Medici Cucina italiana 

 Thanks, Alice P, for this fun post!

It’s NOVEMBER – Pie Time!

Get Ready for PIE – It’s NOVEMBER!

And That means: Pie Time!

Anytime is Pie Time … but especially as we head into November with Thanksgiving plans being made, thoughts of Pies – lots of pies – fill our heads!!

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Traditional is good . . . but little change-ups are fun.

Here are some simple and easy ways to ‘fancy up’ your favorite pies:

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Leaves: Roll your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Use a real leaf as a guide, or freehand it, to cut out leaf shapes. With a toothpick or skewer, lightly etch a vein design into the top of each leaf. Starting from the outside edge of the pie, layer your leaves (overlapping them slightly) over the pie filling in concentric circles.(above-center)

Lattice: If you want to tackle lattice, roll out your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut long, even strips of dough (I like to make mine about 1/2-inch wide). Continue until you’re out of dough. Place half of the strips horizontally across your pie filling with a 1/2 inch between each strip. Fold back every other strip halfway, and place a strip vertically down the pie (right up against where you’ve folded the strips back). Then swap the horizontal strips: unfold the folded ones, and fold back the others. Repeat, placing down another vertical strip, leaving 1/2 inch between each vertical strip, and fold and unfold the horizontal strips in the same way. Repeat, working outwards, until 1/2 of the pie is latticed. Then rotate your pie and do the same on the other half. Trim the edges of the crust. (above -lower left)

 Circles: Roll your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Using the a pastry tip (substitute with a small cup or round object), cut holes all over the crust. Place the crust on top of the pie and seal the edges. (above-lower right)

Cut Out Double Crust Pie: Roll out pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes from the dough. Working from the outside edge to the center, layer the dough pieces on top of the the pie filling, overlapping slightly. This is a simple and eye catching alternative to a standard double crust pie — and is far easier than lattice work. (not shown)

 Ruffled Phyllo Crust: Place a piece of phyllo onto a work surface. Brush with melted butter, and top with another piece of phyllo. Place the second piece slightly off kilter, so the edges don’t match up, and the points of the dough are askew from the first piece. Repeat until you’ve layered 7 pieces of dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate, and crumple the overhang around the edge. From here, the crust can be blind baked or paired with a filling and baked. (center- top photo)

 Fancy, Fun, & EASY Edges:

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Braided Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick — it’s best to keep the piece of dough as long as possible. A standard pie 9″ pie pan is slightly more than 28 inches in circumference, so either go for it and roll out your dough to be about 29 inches long and make a single braid, or take a more sensible route and roll it out in two 15-inch sections to make two braids. Cut three long, thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide) using a chef’s knife or pastry wheel. Pinch three strips together at the top, and braid together. (above -top left)

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

When the pieces are almost fully braided, pinch the ends together to seal. Hold the strand at both ends and stretch gently. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with water and press the braid (or braids) into the edge (if you made two braids, overlap the pieces slightly to achieve a seamless effect). This technique also works well with just two pieces of dough, twisted together.

Rounded Crimped Edge: You’ve mastered the classic crimped edge, which makes a fluted edge with points. With this new technique, the bowl of a spoon guides the finishing of the edge, making a slightly rounded, more fluid edge. (above-lower center)

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

The larger the bowl of the spoon, the bigger the waves will be. Dip the bowl of the spoon lightly into flour and press it gently into the crust, moving outward and using your fingers to guide the outer edge. Repeat all the way around the crust.

Dotted Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick. Lightly flour a small circular cookie cutter (in a pinch, you can use a shot glass or even a bottle cap), and cut out enough circles to cover the entire edge of the pie. (above-top right)It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Brush the edge of the crust with water, and lay the circles around the edge, overlapping slightly. Any shape can be used, just remember to keep the dough pieces small. Pieces that are too large are more likely to become misshapen in the oven.It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

and My Favorite change-up?

Toasted Marshmallow:  Try an easy (and delicious) alternative to meringue — marshmallow topping! Cook 1 1/3 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a small saucepan until it reaches 250 degrees (measure with a candy thermometer). In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the cooked sugar and water to the stand mixer, and whip the heck out of it until it gets fluffy and triples in size. From there? Mound it on the top of your favorite pie and toast to perfection in the oven or with a torch. (top photo- lower left) .

Make it a  “S’Mores Pie” —  Use a graham cracker crust with the chocolate filling and Toasted Marshmallow ‘meringue’!

 

 

Adapted from Food52: 9 Ways to Fancy Up Your Pies

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Apricot Almond Layer Cake  Apricot Almond Layer Cake is a rich, elegant dessert or ‘sweet treat’ to serve with tea.  At first, I described it as just  ‘good’ . . . but not ‘wow’.  The  second day it was a little better, even though the meringue gets a bit soft (mine was soft and chewy to begin with).  Overall the flavors blend together nicely, especially the second day. Even after a few days (yes – it lasted that long….quite rich so serving slices were small) it was still attractive to serve and tasted good. Apricot Almond Layer Cake

The photo accompanying the recipe shows a bright orange ‘apricot’ colored layer.Apricot Almond Layer Cake Since I used non-sulfured apricots, so they were dark to begin with.  I think the bright orange apricots might turn dark after cooking into the compote anyway, so would not maintain the pretty bright orange as in the photo! (as in so many published recipes, the photo was probably photo-shopped or un-cooked apricots were used). The flavor is subtle and very nice. I think I might use the ‘compote’ for other recipes such as with waffles, pancakes, or even French Toast; or possibly paired with cheese and crackers!

The Almond-Crunch was a fascinating process and works really well. Apricot Almond Layer Cake I recommend it for any recipe with ‘nut-crunch’ or ‘praline’ type additions or toppings!! I’m also thinking topping for ice-cream or perhaps lovely pumpkin pie?

The recipe seemed to make a large volume of meringue. Even after carefully drawing out the circles and piling on the fluffy meringue, I had lots left, so I daubed on some smaller circles. Another idea for this dessert – making individual servings!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Get the recipe: Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

Pretty Party Cake – Let’s Eat Cake!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Pretty Party Cake for any Celebration

 

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

This was a yummy cake and it was easy to make.

I see us making this cake often.

I liked that the two layers are each made separately so I didn’t have to try to cut them straight! Or fill each pan evenly.   Thankfully I read the directions all the way through before beginning the  recipe, so I was aware that the amounts were per layer.  I think it would be fun to add a third layer, which would be easy to do with the recipe measurements as they are.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

IPretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake! did not follow the recipe for all of the frosting. The recipe has you make one frosting for the base and another for the decorative flowers but I would have to buy 3 bags of powdered sugar and 2# of butter.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

So instead I made the base frosting following the recipe. Then I added some more powdered sugar to make it thicker and colored it for the flowers. We pressed them on wax paper and put them in the freezer because our room temperature was warm. It worked perfectly. There was still left over frosting after we made the flowers and left per flowers (we didn’t put all the flowers we made on the cake).  They make a yummy- cool sweet treat right out of the freezer.

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

I was also concerned with 2 sticks of butter in the frosting so I compared other buttercream frosting recipes. They all had the same amount of powdered sugar but much less butter and milk. I think that is what makes this one so good and not too sweet.

My hubby has requested this to be his next birthday cake.

I’d say it say it was a big hit! 

Epeciurious.com Recipe: Two Layer Cake

 

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with

Mocha Mascarpone Frosting

 

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

  What could be better?!         Coffee-Chocolate cake with a rich Mocha frosting – Oh My! The recipe shows a picture of a dark – almost black – cake and frosting so I was totally intrigued. After reading through the recipe I became a bit apprehensive  realizing the lengthy process and the number of steps involved: mix, bake, cool, mix, chill, mix more, frost some, chill again, frost more, chill more, un-chill to serve at room temp… whew!

I was also curious just how an almost black cake would result from mixing (white) mascarpone cheese & (white) whipping cream with dark chocolate and dark coffee Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

… NOT going to happen — and it didn’t!

But it WAS rich … oh – so rich and decadent!

AND… It was EASY!!  I allowed two days of baking and frosting to assure myself  enough time for all the steps and time required for mixing and chilling.

 

This is a delicious chocolate cake with VERY RICH frosting

My pans were a good size and baked almost evenly….one layer seemed to sink just a bit on one side while cooling but didn’t affect the layering (a little more frosting in that section!!) Once cooled, they were individually double-wrapped  (in plastic then in Ziplok bag) and refrigerated until being frosted.

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! The process of frosting the cake (one of the many ‘steps’) is a good one to remember and probably use for others: brush the crumbs off with a pastry brush; put the layers together with the filling/frosting; spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and over the top;  then chill another 10 minutes before finishing the frosting. … I figured it was to keep the whipped cream frosting from warming too fast (the chilled cake layers helped too) but I think it is good idea for any layered cake frosting. It also gets any extra crumbs confined.

It was a nice straight up cake to begin with but once I slathered on the second layer of frosting, it kind of ’rounded’ out and looks a little plump! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! I  could have ‘straightened’ it up again making flat sides (and losing a little frosting), but decided to leave it. I added the chocolate curls to the top and around the bottom to dress it up.

The mascarpone cheese must help hold the whipped cream frosting together (I’m thinking the commercial bakeries that offer whipped cream frosting must use something similar so it holds up and doesn’t begin to weep and sag.  The mascarpone certainly makes it RICH!

The coffee adds a lovely flavor – especially in the frosting. It could almost be a Tiramisu cake if it was a white/yellow cake vs chocolate cake (I might give that a try!)  AND – as I have said a couple times now —  there is NO WAY this recipe is going to look like the picture – At least in color! But since I knew that, I am not disappointed in anyway with the outcome.

The cake looks a little dense but has a lighter texture that it appears. Both the cake batter and frosting have a delicious – almost chocolate toffee – taste. The baked cake has a lighter coffee flavor than the batter and goes well with the frosting.

ALL reports are thumbs up!! After his second piece (with tea the next morning), hubby rates it on par with (his memory of) cakes from our favorite Dimmer’s bakery.  Our granddaughter had a piece with Gpa this morning and could only eat half of her small piece (its very rich!) but had no problem finishing it later and then asking for more. Other family members raved and raved and asked when I was making it again! Our neighbor LOVED it and said it was one the best chocolate-chocolate cakes she’s ever had.

Yaaay!!  Another winner!

 

House of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks  — an Oasis in the Desert

House of Tricks RestaurantThis charming restaurant is nestled inside a fenced garden under a canopy of trees which provide a relaxing and peaceful environment for enjoying ‘mouth-watering cuisine’!   Just off the beaten path in downtown Tempe, Arizona, this delightful treasure is a favorite of locals and those visitors lucky enough to discover it.

House of Tricks RestaurantSitting on the ‘sun dappled’ patio under shady trees, umbrellas and enjoying the cool misting system, we lingered over an exquisite late afternoon lunch. The contemporary American menu offers a variety of seasonally inspired options that also reflect an “eclectic blend of cultures and flavors” and feature fresh produce when availableHouse of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks Restaurant House of Tricks RestaurantWe  chose  the Albacore Tuna Melt Sandwich with Tomato, Bacon and Havarti Cheese on Sourdough with Spring Mix Salad. And the Grilled Salmon entree which was served over Baby Lettuce with Sweet Roasted Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Avocado, Chive Risotto Cake, Tortilla Strips and Chipotle-Grapefruit Vinaigrette

House of Tricks Restaurant.

Following these amazing meals, there was no ignoring dessert! We opted for the daily special : a Blueberry Tea Cheesecake Mousse over chocolate cookie crumbs and served in a brandy snifter – oh my! House of Tricks RestaurantIt was all at once light and rich and decadent and delicious! And a perfect ending to our delightful al fresco lunch!

 

See the full menu and learn about the ‘Tricks’