Sunday, August 17, 2014

Croissant French Toast

Toward the end of June we made a little trip up to Creswell, Oregon to visit with family/friends Pattie and Steve.  We had a great time, as usual.  They took us to a little place for breakfast in their little town.  The Creswell Bakery on 2nd St. was a real treat.  It was a Saturday morning and the Saturday Special was French Toast.  The description was "two pieces of soaked & pan seared honey whole wheat bread, fresh lemon curd, whipped cream, toasted hazelnuts & fruit".  It sounded good and we all ordered it.  Well, I have to say that I was very impressed by this little bakery.  This french toast was soooo good and their lemon curd was obviously home made.  The homemade bread was thick sliced, the fruit was strawberries and those yummy hazelnuts were just the right touch of extra crunch.  I have dreamed of that french toast ever since!  Oh, before we left that bakery we purchased a couple of cookies and some scones for the next day.  Anyway, I decided I was going to have to come up with a similar french toast to have here at home.  I had a small jar of lemon curd in the pantry (from Trader Joe's)  I had some Hawaiian Bread to slice, fresh blueberries from my sister in law, and all the other things I needed.  It was really, really good.  Well, I wanted it again this morning and the only bread I could find was a couple of croissants in the freezer.  Ta-da!  I made Croissant French Toast with lemon curd and  blackberry jam.  I can just imagine serving this for brunch to visiting house guests.  YUM!

                            CROISSANT FRENCH TOAST

2 large Croissants, split in half
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Milk (or 1/2 & 1/2 for richer batter)
1 tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Canola Oil
1/2 tablespoon Butter
Fruit Jam (I had homemade blackberry that a friend made)
Lemon Curd (i had a small jar from Trader Joe's)
Powdered Sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Beat together the Eggs, Milk, Honey and Vanilla Extract in a shallow dish.  Coat each side of the Croissant halves in the mixture.  Set aside on a plate as you prepare the pan.  

Heat a large non stick fry pan to medium heat.  Add enough Canola Oil to pan to very lightly coat the pan.  Now add the Butter to the pan.  Once it is all melted together, begin frying your French Toast, cooking until each side is a nice medium brown, about 3 - 4 minutes on each side.  

This is great to serve with butter and syrup, but to make it a show stopper special, top with a little bit of good berry jam and a really nice Lemon Curd (I am always buying this at Trader Joe’s or when we are on trips).  You can be ambitious and make your own if you are so inclined.  Sprinkle on some fresh berries and a little powdered sugar and it’s soooo good!  Oh, that bacon on the side is just the right touch of salty to cut some of the sweet.  Give this one a try!

2 large servings

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


What is more fun than just saying the word Snickerdoodles?   Well, eating them of course!  I made these fun and yummy cookies for my boys when they were growing up.  I always had the ingredients on hand and they are easy to make.  Our oldest son is the cook in his family and he now makes these cookies for his kiddos.  I still make them for my 'forever kid'.  Oh, for anybody who doesn't know, that is my husband John.  He is still a kid at heart and loves cookies.



1 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Margarine
3 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
5 1/2 cups Flour
4 teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 400˚.  In a large mixing bowl, use your mixer to mix together the Vegetable Shortening, Margarine Sugar and Eggs until creamy.  Blend in all of the dry ingredients, don’t over mix once you have added the flour.  Using a tablespoon or a 1 1/2” ice cream scoop make balls of cookie dough.  Roll each ball in a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet or parchment paper, flatten the balls of dough slightly, using the palm of your hand.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  ( these cookies puff up and then flatten out and have cracks).

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the late 70's (yes that was a long time ago), I owned and operated a candy store.  I bought my candy and the gift items I sold.  I had a small but efficient kitchen where I baked desserts.  I specialized in cookies, brownies, cheesecake, carrot cake, blackberry cobbler and a few other yummy and sort of old fashioned goodies.  One of the favorites were my chocolate chip cookies.  I made them big and often.  My boys loved when I brought goodies home.  By boys, I mean our 3 sons and my husband, the biggest boy of all.  Very few people don't love chocolate chip cookies.  They are still favorites with all my grandkids.  One of the things I have learned is not to stir things too much after the flour goes in.  I use equal amounts of both margarine and shortening.  And, I don't like to bake the cookies too long.  I try for a nice golden brown bottom on these yummy morsels.  I love walnuts in almost anything but not everyone does, so they are optional.  I hope you enjoy this recipe for one of our family favorites.

                         CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
1 cup Margarine, at room temperature
1 cup Vegetable Shortening
3 Eggs
1 1/3 cups Sugar
1 1/3 cups Brown sugar
3 teaspoons Vanilla
4 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup Walnuts, chopped - optional

In large mixing bowl, cream together the Margarine, Shortening, Eggs, Sugars, and Vanilla, using an electric mixer.  

With mixer on low speed, slowly add in the Flour, Baking Soda and Salt.  With a spoon, fold in the Chocolate Chips and Walnuts, if you are using them.

Using a tablespoon or a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto a Pam sprayed baking sheet.  I use the palm of my hand to flatten the cookies just a little.  Bake at 375 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes, or until light brown on the bottom.  Don’t over bake the cookies!  Let the cookies cool for 1-2 minutes on baking sheet and then remove them to paper towels to cool.

Makes 7 dozen cookies - they freeze well but don't last long.  We have a cookie monster that eats ours!

I use the palm of my hand to flatten the cookies just a little.  This gives you nice uniform cookies!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blackberry Cobbler

When I was young, my Grandmother lived next to a gully, or canyon if you like.  There were tons of Blackberries growing in this gully.  We would pick Blackberries and fill coffee cans galore.  Grandma would make us pies, cobblers and jam.  I don't think she had a freezer to store them in.  We picked Blackberries for years and in many different places after that.  Well, like so many things, times have changed.  Wild Berry bushes were sprayed and eliminated.

Last week we had our Granddaughter, Anna, visiting us and she spotted Blackberries in the grocery store.  "Oh Grammy, I really like Blackberries.  Dad makes cobbler for us on the 4th of July.  Can we make some?"  Well, that brought back so many memories, how could I refuse.  I pulled out my trusty file and found my recipe for Cobbler.  I make my cobbler using a sweet drop biscuit on top.  I hope this recipe brings some old, or maybe some new memories to mind for you.

                              BLACKBERRY COBBLER
3 cups Blackberries, with juice
3/4 to 1 cup Sugar (depending on tartness of berries)
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 cup Water

Combine Sugar and Cornstarch in a small sauce pan.  Stir in the Water and bring to a boil.  Stir and boil for 1 minute.  Pour over the fruit in a deep baking dish (deepness allows for the bubbling juices).  I used a 10” glass pie plate.  

2 cups Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Shortening or Unsalted Butter
1 cup Milk

Combine all of the dry ingredients.  Combine in the Shortening, using your hands, a fork or a pastry cutter, until the ingredients are like coarse crumbs.  Make a ‘hole’ in the dry ingredients.  Pour in the Milk .  Stir everything together just until it all comes together in a dough.  Don’t over stir!  The dough will be a little sticky.  Drop with tablespoon on top of berries - like drop biscuits. Put a foil lined cookie sheet under the baking dish, it will catch any juice that may bubble over.  Sprinkle Granulated Sugar lightly over the biscuits - I like to sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over mine.   Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until light brown.  Don't over bake!

Makes 12 servings

Serve warm, with ice cream.

Ready to serve!
Ready to bake!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Regular Day In The Life of Grammy...

Soooo, yesterday we decided that ribs would be good, soon.  We went to our favorite little Thai place for dinner last night and had some really good Mango Curry with Shrimp.  But, tonight it's ribs for us.  We took the ribs out of the freezer last night.  Oh dear, no rub!  Well, guess what I did this morning!  Yep, I whipped up a big batch of our Secret Rub!  We really like this stuff and we use it like salt and pepper on everything.  Well, maybe not on our cookies etc but nearly everything.  Check out the recipe for this rub, it's listed under Rubs & Condiments.  Last night on our way home from dinner, we stopped at our Costco and bought a big bag of red potatoes so I am making my potato salad, using red potatoes and I think I will put in some of the dill that is growing in a pot on my patio. My mouth is watering!  I sure hope you are having a nice day.  It's a beautiful, breezy 73˚ here in Redding, Ca.   Most of you know that I like my fresh herbs and I plant them in pots where they live happily on my patio, in the shade, here in sunny California.

This is the lovely fresh Dill that I will use in my potato salad !

The top pot is fresh Mint, middle pot is Dill (who loves my pansies almost as much as the aphids do and the bottom pot is my favorite Thyme.  

This is a big pot of flat leaf Parsley, Chives, Tarragon and Rosemary.  All looked after by Mr. Ladybug.

This, my friends, is just one of many of my Basil plants.  I just love fresh Basil!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sooooooo..... What's happening today!

My Husband John and I have been married to each other for over 50 years now.  So, does that mean that we look alike or think alike or know what the other is thinking?  NO!  Now, wouldn't that get boring.  It would be like being married to yourself, boring and no fun.  I love waking up next to my Husband.  We have evolved from the 18 and 19 year old kids of 1963, thank goodness!  We have raised our family, watched them raising their families and now our grandkids are becoming adults and finding their ways.  It hasn't all been fun and sometimes it was far from easy but we've done it and now we are retired and learning to live with each other - again.  Every evening we fix the coffee pot for morning.  We don't use a timer on the coffee maker because we might wake up at 4am or 8am.  We don't set an alarm unless we are heading out on an adventure at an early hour.  I usually wake up first, as nature says "wake up and turn on the coffee maker".  John almost always gets up and gets us our  first cups of coffee and brings them back to bed.  We watch the news and weather report on TV, usually have that second cup as we plan our day.  One of our key words that starts our day is, Sooooooo...  This means So, what's going on today.  So, what do you want to do today.  So, what sounds good to you for dinner.  That's our easy and simple way to begin the day.  We always talk, smile and laugh during this time of the day.  I love it!  Then, it's get up and get started on a new day.  Am I an expert on relationships? NO!  However, I know what has worked for us and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you.  First I want to share two photos with you.

This is us in November 1963,  at our wedding reception.

This is us, taken  in September 2013.

See what 50 years can do to you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blackberry Mini Cookie Cups

When are you the most adventurous and creative in your cooking?  I find that I am at my best when I am inspired at the market and when I have company coming.  I always check out the berries to see if they look good and go from there.  I saw some beautiful blackberries at Costco and into my basket they went.  I did not know what I would do with them but it had to be dessert and company was coming, the pressure was on!  Then I went to the grocery store to pick up a few non-Costco items and when I saw the pre-made cookie dough I was inspired again.  So, into my basket a roll of sugar cookie dough went.
There was a recipe on the back of the cookie dough package for cookie cups so it would be perfect.  My only concern was - would the berries bleed through the cookie cups..... NO!  They did not!

Well, I decided to do a play on blackberry pie in mini cookie cups.  I pulled out a couple of cookbooks for pie and finally decided to revert back to my Grandma's Blackberry Pie mixture for the berry part of my dessert.  When I was growing up, my Grandma made the best Blackberry Pie.  She just added sugar and a little flour to the wild blackberries that we kids picked.  She made her own pie crust and baked the pie until it was golden and delicious.  She never did write down her recipes so it has been a lot of trials and errors to come up with ingredient amounts.  This is my version of Grandma's Blackberry Pie in Sugar Cookie Cups.  You can make your own recipe for Sugar Cookies or just fudge a little and use the already made roll of sugar cookie dough, like I did.  Since the cookie cups are baked without the berry mixture, I mixed up the pie filling and cooked it on the top of the stove until it was thickened, similar to a jam.  So easy, so pretty and so good!

                                         BLACKBERRY MINI COOKIE CUPS

16 oz. roll pre-made Sugar Cookie Dough
2 teaspoons sugar

2 cups Blackberries
1/2 - 3/4 cup Sugar (taste your berries for tartness, add more sugar if needed)
1 Tablespoon Flour
1/2 teaspoon Butter or Margarine 
1/4 cup Water

Lightly spray 24 mini muffin pan with cooking spray.  Remove the pre-made Cookie Dough from the package.  Divide it into 24 equal pieces (about 1 Tablespoon each) and roll them into balls.  Place one ball into each muffin cup.  Press the Cookie Dough to line each muffin cup.  I used the end of my citrus reamer to help press the dough.  I dipped the end into sugar and lightly pressed.  Then I used my fingers to get the sides to the top of the muffin cup.  Be gentle and don’t make the dough too thin!  Bake at 350˚ until lightly browned about 12 minutes.  Gently press the bottom of the hot cookie cups down into the cup to keep the cup opening as large as possible.  Leave the cookie cups in the tin to cool completely. When cool, gently twist the cookie cups and remove to a plate. 

Pick out 12 of the prettiest berries and cut them in half - the long way.  Place halves cut side down on a paper towel to absorb juice.  These will be used to decorate the top of your filled Cookie Cups.  

In a medium saucepan, combine Black Berries, Sugar (to your taste), Flour, Butter and Water.  Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Use a fork or potato masher to break down the berries.  Allow this mixture to cool enough so that it begins to thicken. 

I only fill the cookie cups that I am going to use soon and refrigerate the berry mixture separately until I am ready to use it.  Berry mixture will last about 3 days unrefrigerated.   Place a berry half on top of each cookie cup and sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on top.  So Pretty!