Love and Confections: September 2013

September 16, 2013

For Grace - September 16, 2013


Every year this day seems to get harder and harder, but this year is different. For the first time in 12 years, even though its hard, I have something special to celebrate today...

My grandmother, Grace, was one of the most important and influential people in my life. She was like a second mother to me. She instilled the true meaning of Family in our lives and loved us unconditionally. My love of baking stemmed from being in the kitchen with her, and even though she was gone, she inspired me to become a chef.

Like I said, we have something to celebrate on this painful day - Mr. Love & Confections and I are expecting our first child, a little Girl! We are so excited to become parents. Years ago, while talking with my Grandmother, I happened to discuss baby names with her if she had been fortunate enough to have had another girl. She told me the name she liked and I thought it was a pretty name that would be good if I ever had a daughter.

It came time for Mr.L&C and I to think about baby names. The name my Grandmother liked was one of my top choices, but it just didn't feel right. We looked through baby name books and went back and forth on options, but didn't find anything we truly liked. Nothing seemed to fit, but then I suggested we name her after my Grandmother. Mr. L&C and I agreed, and so we had a name for our baby girl... Grace which means "God's favor; blessing"!

It's unbelievable how much I love little Grace already, and haven't even met her yet. I'm sure my Grandmother would love her just as much if she were here to meet her namesake. I know she is watching over us and keeping an eye on our baby girl.

Grace's Sugar Cookies
a Family Recipe adapted from Pillsbury

 - 3 cups All Purpose Flour
 - 1 & 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
 - 1/2 teaspoon Salt
 - 1 cup granulated Sugar
 - 1 cup unsalted Butter, room temperature
 - 1 Egg
 - 3 tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream
 - 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

 - Sift Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Sugar into a large mixing bowl. Cut in Butter using a pastry blender.
 - In a small bowl or measuring cup, put Egg, Cream and Vanilla and beat slightly to break up the egg.
 - Pour egg mixture into the flour/butter mixture and combine with a spoon, or by hand, until it forms a cohesive ball of dough.
 - Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. If not using the same day, the dough can stay in the refrigerator overnight, or you can securely wrap it and place in a ziploc bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight in refrigerator or a few hours on the counter.
 - When ready to make cookies, heat oven to 400F, roll out to 1/2 inch thick, cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
 - Bake for 5-8 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack and cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing & Flooded Icing
adapted from Bake at 350

Bridget shares her recipe and step-by-step pictures. Head on over to her Blog for the recipe and to learn how to make royal and flooded icing.

Until next time,

September 1, 2013

Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry Bites

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A few weeks ago, I traveled home to North Carolina to visit my family and help my Mom host a Bridal Shower Brunch for my cousin - and you all know how much I LOVE Brunch. Her favorite color is purple so everything was decorated with that in mind.

All the local mothers helped by bringing food. We had a great spread including a French Toast Casserole, Mini Frittatas, Deviled Eggs, Hash Brown Casserole, Tomato-Pesto Tarts, a build-your-own Yogurt Parfait and a Mimosa Bar.

I helped Mom with all the decorations as well as the Puff Pastry Bites and French Macarons. We also had a dessert table with Cupcakes, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Mints and Peach Cake.

I think she enjoyed herself and had a great Bridal Shower. Congratulations and I cannot wait for the wedding in October!

Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry Bites
inspired by Pinterest

Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry Bites Ingredients:
 - 1 package Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed overnight in refigerator
 - 1 pound shaved deli Ham
 - 1/4 pound sliced deli Swiss Cheese, cut in half
 - 1-2 eggs beaten with 1-2 tablespoons water for Egg Wash

Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry Bites Directions:
 - Heat oven to 425F and lightly spray some baking sheets.
 - Lightly flour a surface to roll out one Puff Pastry Sheet at a time. You don't want to stretch or make them too thin, just maybe an extra 1/2 to 1 inch on each side, and to flatten the fold. Cut into 9 equal squares.
 - Set squares on a diagonal in front of you and place a 1/2 slice of Swiss Cheese, followed by some shaved Ham.
 - Using the Egg Wash, fold one side over, brush the corner and fold the other side on top - to create a sealed puff pastry bite. Brush the entire piece of Puff Pastry with the Egg Wash, including the tops, sides, and little corners still visible under the Ham and Swiss.
 - Repeat process with second Puff Pastry Sheet, remembering to work fast, so the fat does not melt out of the sheets before baking - that's what makes it flaky and delicious!
 - Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Until next time,