Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hot Chocolate Station!

Hot Chocolate Bar 

Hot! Hot!  Hot Chocolate!  If you are like our family, the words to the famous song in "The Polar Express" movie make you want to curl up by the fire with a hot cup of creamy cocoa.  Add some Christmas music, a soft blanket and a good book for a perfect evening.  A fun way to involve the whole family is to create a small "hot chocolate station" where everyone can mix, stir and sprinkle their way to a perfect cup!  I included chocolate covered peppermint sticks, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon and sprinkles.  We leave the station on our drink bar all season, inviting family and friends to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or even coffee.  If you are having a party include mugs, creamers and whip cream for a full hot beverage bar.

A Mug of Marshmallows

I love this time of year.  I love it because of the beautiful sounds of Christmas carols, the sweet taste of fudge and peppermint bark, the smell of the freshly cut Christmas tree and the sight of a crackling fire.  Everything about the season engages the senses and beckons family togetherness. But the main reason I love Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation!

The INCARNATION!  What an amazingly powerful word.  The Incarnation...God of the universe who humbled himself and became flesh.  The God Man, Jesus Christ,  born a baby in a lowly manager on the most holiest of nights over 2000 years ago.  Since childhood, I have enjoyed sitting out under the stars on a cold night and imagining what those shepherds must have felt as a heavenly host of angels appeared in the sky.  Of all the nights in human history, I am drawn to this night.  If I could travel back in time, I would choose this moment, when the angels sang praises in the night sky announcing the Prince of Peace to a group of unknown and unimportant shepherds.  Why the shepherds?

When the business of this season weighs on me, all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, and extra activities, I am reminded of that still, quiet night.  Maybe God chose those shepherds, tending their sheep, because of their calm, quiet spirits sitting in the stillness of the night.  This is why I like Christmas Eve the best.  On Christmas Eve everything in the world winds slowly down...the shopping is done, the presents wrapped, the food cooked, and stillness comes over the whole world.  This Christmas, I encourage you to find a moment to step outside and gaze at the stars.  Maybe you will hear the songs of heavenly hosts ringing in your ears!

Hot Chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 1/2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp salt

In a large saucepan. combine the sweetened, condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Over medium heat, slowly stir in the milk.  Heat through, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vanilla Caramels

Vanilla Caramels

Today I am posting a recipe for yummy homemade caramels.  Pretty easy for Mom or Dad to make, but not for the kids.  Candy-making is difficult to do with children because of the long cooking times and precise temperatures.  This recipe is one they will enjoy eating instead of making!

Vanilla Caramels
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Line an 8 inch square pyrex pan with foil and generously spray with cooking oil.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, cook sugar, without stirring, until it begins to melt.  Be careful with this. When it starts to melt, it browns and bubbles quickly, so you may need to remove from heat for a minute to prevent it from burning.  Once the sugar is completely melted, remove from heat and add the cream.  The sugar wll seize into a solid mass.  Add the butter and corn syrup. 

Fit a candy thermometer to pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture liquefies.  It usually takes about 20-30 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  You want to leave it there for a minute or two before you remove it from the heat but before the temperature rises. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract.  Carefully pour the caramel mixture into the buttered Pyrex dish.  Smooth any bubbles on the surface and let cool until caramels are firm but still slightly warm (about 30 minutes).  

Lift caramel from the pan, peel away the foil and cut into small squares with an oiled knife.  Wrap individually in waxed papers.  Time to eat a few and share a few!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Super Secret Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Walls Family Pumpkin Bread

My twelve year old son had a fit when I told him that I was going to post my pumpkin bread recipe on the "Growing Gourmets" blog. 

"But that's a secret family recipe," he protested.  

How sweet!  I smiled to myself and reassured him that if you have something wonderful, it's important to share it with others.  The best part of the story is that, contrary to his belief, the recipe is not one that was passed down in our family.  Back in my post college, pre-marriage days, I acquired a pumpkin bread recipe from a coworker that was pretty good.  BUT...I didn't like this and I added a little of that and made the recipe my own.  

Now, we make it every Fall and it has become my most requested recipe from friends and family.  Every birthday, preschool party, teacher gift and open house since, has included this family favorite and, in his eyes, it is a FAMILY TRADITION!  So, from our home to yours, we share the beloved "pumpkin bread" recipe and hope it brings you full tummies and happy hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Walls!!

Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cups molasses
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two loaf pans.  

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar and eggs.  Beat with mixers on medium speed until creamy.  Add the pumpkin puree and molasses and continue beating until thoroughly mixed.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating on low speed until incorporated.  Do not over mix the batter.  Pour batter into the greased and floured loaf pans, dividing batter evenly between the two pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of bread comes out clean.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking Classes

Holiday Cooking Classes Return

Even though it’s a busy time of year, packed with school, sports, and various activities, the holidays are a wonderful time to come together as a family.  When we take time to enjoy family traditions, we build lasting memories for our children.  Many of those memories take place in the kitchen or around the table, from making grandma’s cornbread dressing to the annual cookie decorating weekend with dad. 

Consider encouraging these moments by developing culinary skills in your children.  “Growing Gourmets” is offering 3 opportunities for your kids to gain skills in the kitchen and discover recipes that may just start a new tradition in your family!

Tricky Treats (next Saturday)
October 31; 10:00 am-12:00 pm           $20.00
(6-12 year olds)
Wear your costumes to our monster mash where we will brew up a new batch of spooky treats!  A favorite class, this year we meet on Halloween morning!!  We will start with a cauldron full of punch, cheese ball spiders and yummy mummy dogs.  But it wouldn’t be Halloween without the sweets, so we will finish with candy corn pie and caramel apples.   Your child is sure to have a howlin’ good time at this Halloween bash.

Let’s Give Thanks!
November 21; 10:00 am-12:00 pm        $20.00
(6-12 year olds)
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without the whole family gathered around the table to enjoy family recipes passed down from generations.  This year your child will be able to add his own creation to the table when he learns how to bake traditional holiday dishes.  He will have such fun making edible cornucopias and turkeys and trying out recipes for caramel apple crunch pie, sweet potato mousse and homemade crispy cheese crackers. 

Visions of Sugarplums
December 12; 10:00 am-12:00 pm         $20.00
(6-12 year olds)
Does your child have visions of sugarplums dancing in her head?  She will after taking this sweet-filled class where holiday baking and candy-making take center stage.  Last year’s class was SO MUCH FUN for the kids and I had a blast too!!  Each child will make marshmallow pops, homemade candies and of course decorate sugar cookies to take home in a holiday tin.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Not very healthy but terribly delicious" Homemade Donuts

Yummy chocolate glazed donuts made from biscuits.

This is such a fun recipe to do with kids but I have 2 warnings.  First, donuts are never the healthiest breakfast but wonderful for a special occasion or lazy Saturday morning.  Second, this recipe involves deep frying so you have to be extremely careful with hot oil when kids are around.  In my cooking classes I am very careful to keep the kids at a safe distance from the hot oil since it can pop as you put in the dough.  As the instructor, I always do all the frying and stove top cooking myself as they observe.

Having said that, every person (child or adult) who tries these donuts seems to grab the counter after the first bite (to keep from falling over).  They are that good.  Be sure and try some with powdered sugar, some with cinnamon sugar and dip a few in the vanilla and chocolate glazes (recipes follow) but be quick, if you look away for too long, they will disappear!

"Not very healthy but terribly delicious" Homemade Donuts

2 cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

Canola oil, for frying 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
5 tablespoons milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Colored sprinkles
Chocolate sprinkles

Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350 degrees F. In a shallow bowl, stir together the ground cinnamon and sugar and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, set aside. This is the vanilla icing. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of milk and set aside. This is the chocolate icing.

Lay out the biscuits on a cutting board and with a 1/4 to 1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter (or any small circle you can find), cut out a hole from the middle of each biscuit. Fry them in the oil until just golden and then flip with tongs to fry the other side. Be careful not to cook them to long. You can even fry the donut holes. Drain on paper towels and then toss in the cinnamon-sugar or ice and decorate with sprinkles, as desired.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato Basil Soup Recipe

Tomato Basil Soup

As promised, here is a delicious recipe for tomato basil soup. I think this version is mild enough for the whole family to enjoy. You can always use less basil for an even milder flavor, if the basil is too intense for little ones. Our family loves the soup. I serve it with a big caesar salad and french bread. It's a perfect fall meal. I hope you all enjoy.

Tomato Basil Soup

l large can crushed tomatos
4 cups tomato juice
1 stick butter
15 leaves of fresh basil
1 cup cream (or half & half for a lighter version)

Puree tomatos in a food processor or blender. If you like a thicker soup, adjust accordingly. Add the basil leaves to the tomato puree and pulse again until basil is in minced. Pour this tomato mixture into a large stock pot. Add the tomato juice and butter and simmer over low heat for half an hour. Remove from heat and slowly add the cream (or half & half). Stir and return to low heat until heated through. Remove from heat and serve in bowls or cups with bread and salad.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer Garden: Basil Pesto

Sweet baby girl picking basil from the garden.

The end of summer is near. Well, the kids are all back in school but the weather hasn't changed much. Nevertheless, all the summer gardening has come to fruition, the tomatos are delicious and the watermelons are growing. Or maybe you just threw some basil in a pot and called it quits when the temperature soared to the 100's in JUNE! Either way, it's time to use some of the leaves from those giant basil plants that we keep pruning before they go to seed and turn bitter. So here is your August reminder...pick that basil... and if you are wondering what to do with it, here are a few ideas.

Consider tomato basil soup, the recipe is coming soon, though I realize this little gem has been cirulating for some time. The kids love it with a small salad or fresh veggies and sourdough bread. Think "La Madeleine". Maybe grab a few leaves and tuck them along with some sundried tomatos under the skin of your chicken before you bake it.

Or, make some pesto! We have made this recipe several times in my cooking classes and the kids really like it. Pesto is readily available at the supermarket these days, but I promise, if you make homemade...you'll appreciate the difference. So, gather all the family together at the table and enjoy this simple but delicious recipe.

Fresh Basil Pesto with Pasta

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

You do need either a food processor or blender to make pesto! First, combine the basil and the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor or blend on high a few seconds in the blender. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor or blender is in motion. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. It will make about 1 cup of pesto which is enough for a pound of pasta.

Fresh pesto is great on any kind of pasta but bowtie pasta is fun and yummy! So, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the boiling pasta. Then immediately pour into a bowl and add the pesto while the pasta is still steaming hot. Add a salad and serve to your family and friends for a yummy dinner!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

Fall is coming and even though we are still sweltering in the Texas heat, I find myself looking over all those warm, delicious recipes I make when autumn finally does arrive. I decided to share my mom’s chicken and dumplings recipe with you, because I honestly make this year round.

Each of my children request this meal on their birthdays (no happy meals for them) and just yesterday my daughter asked me to make it for dinner. Now I realize EVERYONE in the south has a favorite version of chicken and dumplings passed down from Grandma, but I created a short cut for those of us with extremely busy lives. So, crank down the AC, pretend it’s a cool autumn evening and try my version of a Southern classic.

Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings


1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken (see my February blog for recipe or pick one up at the grocery store if you are in a hurry)

2 quarts of water

1-2 teaspoons salt

pepper to taste

carrots (optional)


3 cups flour

1½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

Place the rotisserie chicken in a large cooking pot and cover with water (approximately 2 quarts) and cover with lid. Place on stove and cook over low heat letting it simmer for 1- 1 ½ hours. Remove pot from heat and carefully place chicken on a large plate or platter. Strain and reserve all stock, pouring it back into the pot. Place the stock pot with stock back over low heat and continue to simmer. Let chicken cool and then debone, pulling it into small pieces and placing in the broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

As the chicken broth simmers, make the dumplings. Measure 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add 1½ cups water and stir until the dough comes together into a nice ball. Flour a work surface and place dough in the center, kneading just until the dough comes together and is smooth. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a rectangle approximately 12” by 15” or until dough is a ¼ inch thick. Cut dough lengthwise into long 1 inch strips. Then cut each strip into 2 inch pieces forming large bite-sized pieces.

My dumplings are rectangles about 1”x2” but you can make them any size. Dust the top of the dumplings with more flour and carefully drop them into the simmering broth one or two at a time. After all the dumplings are in, you can add baby carrots as an option is you want to sneak in some vegetables. Simmer for another 20 minutes and serve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

French Madeleines

French Madeleines

I am so excited! I just got my new madeleine pan delivered to my door from Amazon. I felt just like a little kid opening a package on Christmas morning. I don't know how many of you have enjoyed these tasty little cakes, but they are wonderful when served fresh from the oven. You can buy them at La Madeleines or Starbucks even, but they are not cheap. They taste great with coffee or hot tea and I have wanted to make my own for some time now. I perused several recipes, but never could find the special madeleine pan when shopping around town.

I finally decided to just buy online and in just a couple of days...POOF...like magic it was sitting at my door. So, today I will share a recipe with you for Madeleines. I actually read over several recipes and tried a few of them, but the key factor that gives them their nutty flavor, seems to be in melting and browning the butter. Not all recipes call for this, but it is worth the extra time.

Speaking of time, it really doesn't take much time at all. It takes about the same time as homemade chocolate chip cookies, but oh so good! Only problem is that they don't last. This is now the sad fact...I wish that I would have bought 2 pans, so that I could have double batches cooking at the same time. Oh, well...my birthday is coming up so I'll file that "gift idea" for later. Technically you could make these little cakes in a mini muffin pan, but they do look beautiful in their classic shell pattern. So, think about the small investment...as a madeleine crumbles in my mouth, I decide it is worth it!

French Madeleines Recipe

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter 4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one large lemon powered sugar

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it's brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma. The butter will need to cook around 20 minutes, to achieve the beautiful golden brown color. Remove butter from heat and strain it over a small bowl using a paper towel over a mesh strainer. You want to remove the fat solids and leave the clarified butter.

While the butter is cooling, spray cooking oil evenly into each shell of the madeleine pan making sure you get into all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Crack the four eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can use a hand held mixer if you want, just be sure to use a spatula when folding in the flour. Add salt and whip on high speed until thick and the eggs double to triple in volume, approximately 3 minutes. Continue to mix on high speed, slowly adding the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for another couple minutes unitl the mixture is thick.

Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla with a spatula. Next, fold in the flour and butter mixture, alternating each and stirring just until incoporated. Sppon battter into the molds of the pan, filling each one 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges of the Madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good Manners Examined

With my manners class, as with all my classes, I am always hopeful that the the skills learned during our lessons will be reviewed and cultivated at home. As skills are taught, they can only become habits if we practice them. As I prepared for the manners class this week, I was reminded how important it is to teach our children good manners. Etiquette does include, of course, learning good table manners...which fork to use for each course served at a fine restaurant...but it is so much more than that.

Ultimately, using good manners is a way for us to show kindness to others by exhibiting thoughtful behavior. When we say please and thank you, we are expressing the gratitude that exists in our hearts. Practicing good habits in order for them to become habits in our lives does not reduce them to rote memorization. Instead, I think that the kindness we show through our manners can lead our hearts to be more in tune with people's needs, helping us to think about how our actions can affect those around us.

Consider the simple acts of human interaction...meeting someone for the first time, sitting down to meals with family and friends, waiting in line at the grocery store or in a crowded airport...all these moments are more pleasant when we are considerate. When we smile, look people in the eyes, speak clearly, wait patiently and listen without interruption, we are showing others that we care about them.

Why not take some time this summer, when our schedules are slower and the hot days of summer cause us to flee indoors, to learn about and then practice manners together as a family. I have a list below of table manners to help you get started, but consider other everyday manners like making introductions, writing thank you notes and letters, eating out and traveling, or even visiting the sick or elderly.

We have been working with our children on interacting with adults from making introductions to responding to teachers and neighbors with confidence and respect. We noticed the differences in teenagers whose parents worked on these issues, how they not only seemed kinder and more respectful, but also older and more confident. We desire to cultivate those good habits in our own children. We hope to give our children positive instruction that develops character and confidence, which aids their growth into mature and productive adults. And though our family is a work in progress, with stressful days, tears and confessions (Mom included), I am hopeful that these little lessons will take root in their hearts and one day, if God allows, to partake in its sweet fruition.

Starting with the Table!
Arrive at the table with clean hands and face.
Leave toys, books, and pets behind.
When you sit down, place the napkin in your lap.
Sit up straight and stay seated.
Ask politely for dishes to be passed. Never reach across the table. Say “Please” and “Thank you.”
Wait until everyone is seated and served before starting to eat. If grace is said, wait to eat until it is completed. Don't giggle during grace.
Keep your elbows off table.
Never chew with your mouth open.
Never talk with a mouth full of food.
Use utensils quietly without banging them on the table or plate. You should place your knife softly on the edge of the plate when not in use.
Don’t criticize the food.
Talk with everyone.
Keep your knife out of your mouth.
Never play with your food.
Never grab food from other people's plates.
Ask politely for seconds if you want them.
Ask to be excused from the table.
Clear your plate from the table and take it into the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July Summer Camps

I'm back from Paris with pastries on the brain!

Just in time to try out some recipes for July cooking camps.
A few spaces are still available,
so let me know if your child would like to attend!

Manners Matter: Traveling in Style $65

July 13-16

Having good manners are important every day, not just when we sit down to dine at a fancy restaurant. This four-week session will focus on etiquette, setting the table and good table manners as we cook recipes that test even the neatest and most polite child!

Please don’t think this is a “stuffy, boring” class…for we will use our etiquette expertise to “travel” to exotic lands and have…high tea in England…pastries on the sidewalk cafes of Paris…fondue on the long voyage aboard the Orient Express from Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam to Turkey…and a fine dining experience at the Plaza in New York.

Mon.-Thurs. 10 am-12 pm K-6th grade

2- 4 pm K-6th grade*

Camp-Out Cuisine $65

July 20-23

You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare camping foods, but if you use the culinary skills of one, you are sure to elevate these simple and fun recipes to an art form. In this class, we will learn how to prepare food in foil over a campfire, learn what foods to take on the trail, create dinner on a stick and how to safely use the outdoor grill. We can’t forget the classic s’more…but we will try it with our own homemade marshmallows. Yum!

Mon.-Thurs. 10 am-12 pm K-6th grade

2- 4 pm K-6th grade*

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer Cooking Camps are Back!

Join us for a week-long course, for elementary-age kids, designed with a unique and exciting theme that offers hands-on participation, detailed cooking instruction and their very own notebook full of recipes to take home!  Plus, every day the kids get to eat what they create!  The camps will run Monday through Thursday during the months of June and July at my home in Fairfield.  Your kids are invited to join the fun as I look forward to teaching them the art of cooking!



Cooks and Books Returns

June 8-11           $65

Mon.-Thurs.   10 am-12 pm           K-6th grade

                   2- 4 pm                  K-6th grade*

 All new books and all new recipes will make this a favorite class for children of all ages. 

Think “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”!!  Kids will look at stories a whole new way, as they create recipes inspired from some of their favorite books.  Classic children’s stories like “Stone Soup” and new favorites like “If You Give A Pig A Pancake” offer plenty of inspiration for growing gourmets.  We will bake bread like the little red hen, eat like the hungry caterpillar and perhaps reprise our favorite “Green Eggs and Ham.”  Come hungry for good books and good food.


Around the World in 4 Days

June 15-18                   $65

Mon.-Thurs.   10 a.m.-12 p.m.       K-6th grade **morning class only

Kids will be transported around the world as they learn the customs, culture, language and food specialties of countries different from their own.  Campers will learn that trying new foods can be fun, especially as they are enveloped in the culture of a foreign land.  We will “visit” Japan, Greece, Italy and France as we travel around the world, learning how to prepare exotic food for friends and family.  What a fun way to learn to cook…especially when chopsticks are included!


*** I will be traveling to Europe between these classes…from London to Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris…looking for yummy recipes to bring back to the children for the next class.


Manners Matter: Traveling in Style

July 13-16           $65

Mon.-Thurs.   10 am-12 pm           K-6th grade

                   2- 4 pm                  K-6th grade*

Having good manners are important every day, not just when we sit down to dine at a fancy restaurant.  This four-week session will focus on etiquette, setting the table and good table manners as we cook recipes that test even the neatest and most polite child!  Please don’t think this is a “stuffy, boring” class…for we will use our etiquette expertise to “travel” to exotic lands and have…high tea in England…pastries on the sidewalk cafes of Paris…fondue on the long voyage aboard the Orient Express from Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam to Turkey…and a fine dining experience at the Plaza in New York.   


Camp-Out Cuisine

July 20-23           $65

Mon.-Thurs.   10 am-12 pm           K-6th grade

                   2- 4 pm                  K-6th grade*

You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare camping foods, but if you use the culinary skills of one, you are sure to elevate these simple and fun recipes to an art form.  In this class, we will learn how to prepare food in foil over a campfire, learn what foods to take on the trail, create dinner on a stick and how to safely use the outdoor grill.  We can’t forget the classic s’more…but we will try it with our own homemade marshmallows.  Yum!


*Two classes will be offered as long as there is enough participation. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Overnight French Toast with Praline Sauce

So you missed my "Mother's Day Brunch" class but now you are scrambling (no pun intended) to think of something to make for Mom.  With only a few days left to plan, shop and cook, I decided to send out one of the recipes from the class.  This is one of the favorite breakfast treats  I make when we have company.  Don't you want to come visit?  

It is similar to a bread pudding (but that's for another post) and has all the ingredients of French Toast without the hassle of making it while everyone is standing around with their plates waiting on you. Make it the night before and bake it in the morning.  Now... go, cook and celebrate all the "mothers" in your life!

Overnight French Toast Casserole with Praline Sauce

1 loaf of French bread 6 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans

Cut French bread into 1 inch cubes.  You should have about 10-12 cups of cubes.  Place the cubes in baking dish.  In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until smooth.  Add the half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk until well blended.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the cubed bread.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  

In the morning, remove the foil from the French toast casserole.  Mix together the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and nuts in a small bowl. Drop the mixture in little spoonfuls over the French toast.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Serve with praline sauce.

Praline Sauce
1 sticks butter 1/2 bag of light brown sugar
1 cups water 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

In a sauce pan, melt the butter, sugar, water and condensed milk.  Bring mixture to boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and it is ready to be spooned over the baked French toast.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother's Day Class This Saturday!

Making a Mother’s Day Brunch

May 2; 11 am- 1 pm    $20.00     (5-12 year olds)

How does a tray laden with coffee, flowers and a decadent breakfast on Mother’s Day sound to you?  Every child is capable of learning new ways to serve loved ones, especially Mom!  In this two hour class, we will focus not just on the food, but the whole act of service.  First, preparation, by using recipes and shopping lists.  Next is the presentation of the food and instructions on how to serve a special meal.  Finally, the biggest blessing of all, we will learn how to clean up the mess!

The recipes for this class include the most delicious French toast casserole (that can be made the night before) drizzled with homemade praline sauce.  We will also make a light but delicious fruit salad, prosciutto and brie omelets, and to finish off, crunchy cinnamon palmiers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chocolate Macadamia Shortbread Cookies

In out Taste of Tropics class, we are making a delicious shortbread recipe.  If you like macadamia nuts and chocolate, you'll love these cookies.  I have shortbread cookie and biscotti recipes in my files, but recently found one that added macadamia nuts.  I think everything is better when it is dipped in chocolate, so voila....Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread Cookies.  I like the way they look with the dark chocolate, but if you like the combination of white chocolate and macadamia nuts, you could dip them in melted white chocolate chips or almond bark!  Enjoy these with a steaming pot of English Breakfast tea.  Life doesn't get any better than this.

Don't forget to let the kids help you!  This is an easy recipe and even though it says to make small rounds, let them try a fancy rectangle or triangle with the fork holes punched in them like the famous Walker brand.  

Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread Cookies

1 c macadamia nuts 
1 c all-purpose flour 
1/4 c cornstarch 
3/4 c unsalted butter; softened 
3/4 c confectioners' sugar
6 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

Finely chop the macadamia nuts. Sift flour, sugar and cornstarch. Stir in nuts. Beat butter in bowl at medium speed until creamy. At low speed, beat in flour mixture. Using a level tablespoon, shape dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven 25 to 30 minutes until just lightly browned around edges. Cool baking sheet on rack 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack to cool.  Dip half of each cookie I the melted chocolate and lay  each on waxed paper to set.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two Easter Classes Available!

Easy Easter Edibles

I am opening a second Easter cooking class this Saturday, so if you couldn't make the morning class, you can join us for the afternoon.  Spaces are still available for both classes, so sign up the little chefs in your life!

April 11; 11 am-1 pm & 1:15-3:15 pm     $20.00     (6-11 year olds)

In this class, the children will make scrambled egg nests  and yummy carrot muffins which are wonderful for an Easter brunch.  They will make an edible table arrangement of fruit flowers , and a dessert of chocolate bird’s nests which are almost too cute to eat.  Almost! 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection Cookies

I am giving this recipe to the kids at Saturday's Easy Easter Edibles class but I also wanted to post it for everyone who follows the blog.  

You may be familiar with this recipe, but here it is as a reminder for a wonderful family activity on Saturday night.



1 c whole pecans          1 t vinegar

3 egg whites                 pinch salt

1 c sugar

 zipper baggie, wooden spoon, tape and Bible



Preheat oven to 300 degrees F before beginning. (It is important to do this before you start.) 

Place pecans in a zipper bag and let children beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers.

 Read John 19:1-3

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

 Let each child smell the vinegar.  Put 1 teaspoon of vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink.

 Read John 19:28-30

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Add egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.

 Read John 10:10-11

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.


Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand.  Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.  Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.

 Read Luke 23:27

27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.


So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us He wants us to know and belong to Him.

 Read Psalm 34:8

 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

 Read John 3:16

 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,a]">[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.

 Read Isaiah1:18

 18 "Come now, let us reason together," 
       says the LORD. 
       "Though your sins are like scarlet, 
       they shall be as white as snow; 
       though they are red as crimson, 
       they shall be like wool.

 Read John 3:1-3

1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." 3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again


Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered ookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.

Read Matthew 27:57-60

 57As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

 Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.

 Read Matthew 27:65-66

 65"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." 66So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.



Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. 

 Read John 16:20 & 22

20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.


On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!  On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

 Read Matthew 28:1-9

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.