Books

Feasting on Apple & Honey Galette with Pomegranate Seeds

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 The Novel Bakers have been foraging and feasting this week with inspiration from The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods by Erin Gleeson.

I’m ending this week on a sweet note, Apple & Honey Galette with Brie and Pomegranate Seeds. This is another easy and delicious recipe you can whip up using store-bought pie dough and just a few ingredients.

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Galettes are easy, free-form, rustic tarts made with a single crust of pastry.

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Along with a slice of Galette, I thought I’d serve up some behind the scenes photo tips and The Forest Feast cover photo shoot.

Erin Gleeson took the cover photo standing on a chair in her backyard. A blank canvas was surrounded with flowers from the farmers market and dishes from the cookbook. The watercolor title was later scanned and Photoshopped onto the layout.

Photographing Ingredients The Forest Feast

I’ve had several emails and comments recently about sharing my camera and photo tips. Here’s a little behind the scenes of photographing ingredients and my secret and tip that I’ve learned from 4 years of blogging:

Tip:  Take LOTS of photos

Secret:  It’s ALL about the light.

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I prefer to take food photos with the natural light on our screened porch. This time of the year the light is unpredictable, so I’m either chasing it when it’s too dark or trying to avoid it since it’s lower in the horizon and it comes in at a strange angle making things look harsh and washing them out. Taking photos of a table outdoors is always challenging, too much sunlight or not enough, but morning is usually the best time of day.

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I don’t use a tripod, but I usually always use a step stool to stand on, either a little collapsible one that’s easily portable, about 9 inches tall or a taller 3-step version to shoot down from. Sometimes just standing on the first step of a stool is enough height to change the perspective of what you’re shooting, so you’re looking down rather than across your subject, and improves your photo.

I have an older Nikon D60 and use Picasa (free download) and PicMonkey (free, no download) for editing my photos. Sometimes you have to boost the light and edit the exposure and a little cropping or a little straightening helps too.

The Forest Feast Apple & Honey Galette Ingredients

I moved a small table outside to take advantage of the filtered light from under the tree. I took the tabletop off the my small side table on the porch for a solid surface to sit on top the other table, along with a wooden board and took several test shots to see which I liked .

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I ended up preferring a wooden board on the ground among the leaves for the ingredient shot, no step stool required :)

Apple & Honey Galette Ingredients

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Apple & Honey Galette with Brie and Pomegranate Seeds

1 Refrigerated Pie Crust

4 oz. of Brie

1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

3 tablespoons Sliced Almonds

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

2 Apples, thinly sliced

Honey, Butter & Pomegranate Seeds

Apple Gallette with Brie & Honey

Top your pie crust with Brie, brown sugar, sliced almonds and cinnamon. Top next with thinly sliced apples (peeled or unpeeled). Next drizzle the top with honey, dot with butter, and fold edges over to form your crust.

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I brushed the crust with egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) and sprinkled a little sugar on the pie crust edge. Bake at 350 degrees 20 -25 minutes until crust is golden. Allow to cool and firm up slightly before cutting and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Apple & Honey Galette with Pomegranate Seeds

Feast with Jain and Michael Lee. . .

The Novel Bakers

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Novel Bakers The Forest Feast

Thank you for your visit, also sharing with:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

The Forest Feast: Savoring the Flavors and Colors of Fall

The Forest Feast Savoring the Flavor & Colors of Fall

I’m savoring the flavors and colors of fall,

joining The Novel Bakers for

The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson.

There was plenty to tempt my taste buds in The Forest Feast along with inspiration for a little foraging outdoors, enjoying the fleeting fall color before the arrival of the artic blast.

The Forest Feast

I took a few liberties with a couple of The Forest Feast recipes for novel baking this week. The first recipe that caught my eye was a Butternut Caprese Salad, a fall and California twist on the Italian classic!

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Butternut squash, mozzarella (smoked or regular), grape or cherry tomatoes, basil, and avocado for a little buttery and creamy flavor and texture.

Butternut Caprese Salad Ingredients

Cube and roast your butternut squash at 425 degrees with some olive oil, salt and pepper for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool.

Butternut Caprese

Arrange tomatoes, cheese, chopped basil, butternut, and avocado on a serving platter, sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper.

My Southern twist on a California version of this Italian classic, was the addition of a hot bacon dressing, which I’m pretty sure is a no-no with a vegetarian cookbook and recipe. . .but everything is better with bacon :)

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Hot Bacon Dressing

4  - 6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

3  Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 kosher salt

 freshly ground black pepper

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Saute bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from heat, reserving bacon and 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Let stand 1 minute. Add vinegar and oil, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Drizzle warm bacon mixture over salad.

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Serve immediately.

Beautiful colors and flavors for fall! You can find a printable recipe, here.

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The other recipe that caught my eye was a Winter Citrus Sangria,

a red wine sangria with brandy, orange juice and assorted citrus fruits.

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With Thanksgiving and the holidays on the horizon, I mixed up a fall batch of sangria, you can serve your guests or family for easy entertaining.

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 Pomegranate and Pear Sangria, delicious and beautiful!

A red wine is the base of this sangria but you could easily substitute a sparkling wine for the holidays.

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I used a handy Anatomy of Sangria chart, courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine  for mixing my Pear and Pomegranate Sangria for a quick reference for easy mixing.

The sangria combinations are endless with this chart as a guideline. Pick and choose your mixers, fruit, juice, wine & liquor, adjusting the flavors and quantities to your taste.

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 I started with an inexpensive Pinot Noir since I was adding juice and mixers to it for this Thanksgiving version of sangria.

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 Pomegranate and Pear Sangria

Ingredients

2 – 3 pears, sliced

Pomegranate Seeds

1 bottle Pinot Noir, or red wine of choice

1/2 cup Pomegranate Juice

1/2 cup Absolut Orient Apple Vodka

1 can Ginger Ale (I used diet) 

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I used apple vodka with a hint of ginger flavor that I had a bottle from mixing my Apple Cider Sangria.

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Slice pears and add to a large pitcher along with pomegranate seeds.

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Add wine, pomegranate juice and vodka. Refrigerate until serving, 1 – 2 hours or up to 24.

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Just before serving, add chilled ginger ale to pitcher and mix well.

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Fill glasses half full with ice. Add sangria, sliced pears and pomegranate seeds to garnish glasses.

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Happy Sipping and Savoring!

You can find a printable recipe here.

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The Novel Bakers return on Friday, November 21st with more Forest Feast!

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Autumn Pomegranate & Pear Sangria

Feast and sip with Jain and Michael Lee . . .

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Pomegranate and Pear Sangria

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

Foraging, Feasting and Chocolate Ricotta Mousse!

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I’m joining the The Novel Bakers with The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods by Erin Gleeson

The Novel Bakers

Join us this week as we step into the magical world of Erin Gleeson, food blogger, artist, photographer and cookbook author of The Forest Feast. . .

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Jain found this cookbook for The Novel Bakers to play with this week! I’m a sucker for cookbooks with lots of beautiful photos and this one fits the bill, since every recipe has a full-page photo along with an easy to follow format, with the ingredients and directions on the opposite page with minimal text.

“Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog.”

“Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.”

This cookbook is a feast for the eyes with its deliciously photographed recipes and hand-painted illustrations added for a dash of artistry and a pinch of whimsy!

And would make a great gift for a new cook with the easy to follow directions and recipes with a minimal ingredients.

 While the recipes are vegetarian, many would work as sides for an entrée and are designed for entertaining that can be served at room temperature.

Appetizers, cocktails, salads, vegetable dishes and sweets with emphasis on fresh, colorful produce and ingredients.

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There was plenty to choose from and for novel baking in this cookbook, but I have to admit that I did more foraging than feasting this week. . . (oops ;) 

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Searching for leaves, moss, ferns, and acorns for this book as inspiration rather than ingredients.

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It gave me the excuse to play outdoors and enjoy the fleeting fall color in our wee bit of woods . . .

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And to harvest some fall foliage to enjoy. . .

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Along with some crisp fall weather before the artic blast arrived.

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We feasted on one of the recipes in the ‘sweets’ category,

 Chocolate Ricotta Mousse Cups.

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4 Ingredients and easy to make and that satisfies your inner chocoholic!

Chocolate Ricotta Mousse Ingredients

Melt 4 oz of chocolate (dark, milk or semi-sweet) using your preferred methodin a double boiler over hot water or in the microwave. If using the microwave, break into small pieces and heat chocolate at 50 percent power for 1 to 11/2 minutes. Remove and stir, returning to microwave and repeat, stirring every 20 seconds to avoid scorching. When only small bits of chocolate remain, remove and continue to stir until completely melted.

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 Add 2 cups ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and melted chocolate to a food processor.

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Blend everything together in the processor for about 30 seconds. Chill in refrigerator several hours. It’s even better refrigerated overnight.

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 Serves 4, along with most of the recipes in the The Forest Feast.

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Serve with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, slivered almonds,

a pirouline wafer cookie if desired. . .

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And maybe a bird or two :)

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Foraging & Feasting Details:

Bird Tray, HomeGoods

Transferware Plate / Bountiful-Brown by Ridgway

White Bird Dish/ Gracie Teaware, HomeGoods

Twig & Leaf Spoons / Tuesday Morning, several years ago

Bird Cup & Saucer / Williamsburg Aviary by Wedgwood

Tree Slice Server / Bed, Bath & Beyond

Pumpkin Pillow / Pottery Barn

Leaf Pillow / Hobby Lobby

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The Novel Bakers return on Wednesday, November 19th with more Forest Feast!

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Feast with Jain and Michael Lee. . .

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

The Flavors of Fall Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers have had a full & delicious week packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for picnic week!

Here’s a final picnic to wrap up the week and with a little fall flavor to end on!

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Fall is my favorite season and the perfect time to picnic or tailgate!

I found a vintage Redmon picnic basket from a favorite antique mall for $15 to pack up and take home with me. . .

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The brown woven plaid basket reminiscent of football, fall sweaters,

leaves and thermoses filled with steaming soup!

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Our leaves don’t typically change in North Carolina until October so I packed some fall photos from the archives to add for some additional seasonal color!

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My galvanized bottle tote (from Pottery Barn) makes a convenient picnic caddy. . .

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And makes it easy to tote jars of flatware, napkins, food, flowers/ leaves and bottles or glasses for a picnic. We’re picnicking with Shelton Vineyards Madison Lee, a Yadkin Valley North Carolina wine. You can enjoy a visit and sample some other Bottled Sunshine, here.

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My salad inspiration for our picnic came from Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

Spinach Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts can be enjoyed year round, but would be especially good with pears in season in the fall.

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 No recipe required for this salad, just a combination of baby spinach, firm ripe pear, peeled and sliced, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.

I tossed my sliced pears in some canned pineapple juice, less tart than lemon juice, before assembling the salad to prevent them from oxidizing.

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Toast your walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant at 350 degrees (about 7- 10 minutes) for maximum flavor and crunch! This recipe called for adding endive, cored and thinly sliced, to the spinach, which you can add or omit. It would be great with dried cranberries too for some extra sweetness and color.

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Bring along your favorite dressing in a jar to add before serving. If you’re looking for a wonderful salad dressing for fall, try Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette, a mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard.

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We’re picnicking with our favorite fall soup, Roasted Pear and Butternut Squash. It’s flavorful, healthy, and easy, since you roast all the ingredients in the oven and then puree them with chicken stock!

Butternut Squash Soup

I prefer the flavor of chicken stock but you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative. Use an immersion blender in your dutch oven or stock pot to blend the roasted vegetables with the hot stock for easy clean up and no risk of exploding soup in your blender.

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Garnish your soup before serving with a little crumbled blue cheese, chopped walnuts and a little bacon or crispy prosciutto to top it off is delicious too!

You can find the recipe, here.

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And ending on a sweet note, Easy Caramel Apple Bars!

They’re easy since they start with an oatmeal cookie mix that’s layered with apples and a caramel topping.

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This crowd-pleasing recipe comes together in 15 minutes and bakes in about 20.

The hardest part about these bars is waiting for them to cool long enough to cut!

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You can find the recipe, here.

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Flavors for Fall Picnic Details:

Plaid Throw / Target, several years ago

Brown coverlet/ Bed, Bath & Beyond, several years ago

Redmond Plaid Picnic Basket & Fruit Crate / antique mall

Plaid frame JanetBasket with cover / Amazon

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Caddy & Flatware / Pottery Barn

Plates & Mugs / Johnson Brothers Fruit Sampler Old Granite

Napkins / Pier 1

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

The Flavors of Fall Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Rainstorm Picnic

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I’m joining the The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for a couple of months in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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My Rainstorm Picnic was inspired by a week of summer weather with pop up storms, a bottle of Rainstorm Pinot Gris. . .

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. . .and Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway. 

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Some shelter under the dock provided the cover and some colorful umbrellas set the stage.

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Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway: 

A picnic is classically defined as a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion. But why settle for that when you can experience a Sunset Romance Picnic, a Snowshoe Picnic, or even a Dinner Picnic in Bed?

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 Hilary Heminway and Alex Heminway share dozens of creative ways to take a meal outside, whether the sun is just coming up for the day or romantically dropping in the sky, in the heat of summer or during a winter’s chill. All-season picnics include: Sunset romance, boat on a lake, snowshoeing in the woods, rodeo tailgate, riverside barbecue, horseback riding, dog pack, picnic for children, and rainy day.

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A water-themed menu was provided for a rainy day picnic. . .

 Watercress Soup, Watermelon Salad and Water Crackers with Cheese.

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I filled some rain boots with some flowers for vases . . .

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And I packed some water related reading to enjoy. . .

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Waterside Cottages and Waterside Living.

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And packed my favorite Watermelon Salad, combined with feta cheese,

the creamy, salty cheese a perfect partner to the sweet, juicy melon!

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No recipe required, just the fresh and delicious combination of watermelon, feta cheese, chopped basil, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper!

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Water crackers and Brie, tied with some baker’s twine and some herbs, rosemary, blooming lavender and tarragon.

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A rain gauge ready and handy, tucked in a pot of lantana. . .

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I couldn’t find watercress for soup this time of year so I substituted arugula for a similar peppery flavor.

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Potato-Arugula Soup

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (or use 4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, no need to peel)

3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock

1 cup arugula (or substitute watercress)

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon lemon juice

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Directions

Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the arugula. Cook for 1 -2 minutes, until wilted.

Place half of the broth mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender for easier clean up and no danger of exploding soup). Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Repeat the blending process with the remaining broth mixture. Return all the puréed mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Serve immediately or refrigerate at least 2 hours until well chilled.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Rainstorm Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Perfect Day for a Provençal Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets, baking, and cooking up recipes for a couple of months now in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Provençal Picnic from

A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch.

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“Chic country girl and gourmet Tori Finch understands the joy of a carefree picnic. There’s nothing like eating outdoors to capture your sense of adventure, and add flair to the food—whether you are entertaining a relaxed crowd of friends and family or preparing a romantic feast for two. Whatever the occasion, A Perfect Day for a Picnic is your guide to enjoying the outdoors life.”

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“Many times on a a dreary day, I find myself gazing out of the window and dreaming of Provence. The fields of lavender, the azure sea. . .”

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“However, you don’t need to be in the South of France to enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean. Summer’s harvest of produce and a warm sunny day are just what’s needed for a Provencal Picnic. Pack a checkered ground cloth, a baguette or two and some cheese. . .”

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Among the recipes included for a Provençal Picnic was one for Salade Niçoise, a picnic friendly & hearty salad. Keep the eggs, tuna and dressing chilled and assemble when ready to manger!

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I’ve been hoarding these galvanized déjeuner pails I found for $3.99 at Tuesday Morning or Mardi Matin a year ago. Fun for a packing or toting French picnic lunch!

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Ingredients

Haricots verts, green beans, trimmed and cooked until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water. I used a microwavable bag of cleaned and trimmed beans from the produce section.

Solid white tuna packed in oil, drained and broken into chunks

Bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves separated

Small new potatoes, boiled until tender

 Hard-cooked eggs, halved or quartered

Plum tomatoes, halved (roasted if desired, I used grape tomatoes)

 Nicoise or Kalamata olives

Anchovies if desired, I omitted

Simple French Vinaigrette

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Simple French Vinaigrette

 pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)

To make the dressing add a generous pinch of sea salt to the vinegar and mix to dissolve. Add the olive oil, Dijon mustard and garlic if using, and mix well before sprinkling on this salad.DSC_3331-001

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I filled my picnic basket with some French treats from World Market or Marché Mondial. . .

French Soda

 French Soda and a Rosé. . .

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Along with Filet Bleu Galet de Quimper Biscuits, a buttery shortbread cookie

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Un Mondo Herbes de Provence Salami

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Pack some Brie and some confiture frambroise.

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Fresh figs

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And some cocktail cornichons

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Provençal Picnic Details:

Déjeuner Pails / Tuesday Morning, a year ago

Quilt/ Kohl’s

Napkin Rings & Confiture Jar/ Williams-Sonoma, several years ago

Napkins & Assorted Picnic Treats / World Market

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Tote, Pottery Barn

White Dishes & Flatware / Mikasa French Countryside

Bistro Glasses/ Pottery Barn, several years ago

Blue & White Transferware / Antique Mall

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“Lastly, when you get to the destination and set up the feast, don’t forget to relax, take your shoes off, enjoy the moment and pour yourself a large glass–you deserve it.”

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“This book is a tribute to the picnic in all forms, be it a family day at the beach, a trip out in the car to your favorite wild spot with a flask of tea and a hunk of cake, or a cheerful children’s party. A picnic is one of life’s simple pleasures- they are about relaxing in the great outdoors. . .Mostly, they are a way of appreciating the good things in life. Live. Love. Picnic.”

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Bon Appétit!

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

A Perfect Day for a Provençal Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Caribbean {Floating} Island Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

I had some end of summer fun on our Caribbean {Floating} Island,

our pontoon boat, docked instead of floating, for this Caribbean Picnic!

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A hula table skirt swag, tropical floral bunting, paper lanterns and

flamingos set the stage for a Caribbean Island Picnic.

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A picnic caddy holds the essentials including sunscreen and sunglasses. . .

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And some fruit infused water will keep you hydrated for your day in the sun.

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Colorful striped melamine plates and flatware are carefree and make for easy island picnicking. . .

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And we’re enjoying Caribbean Cold Rice Salad,

good chilled or served at room temperature,

recipe courtesy of Picnic by Dee Dee Stovel.

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Picnic by DeeDee Stovel:

 Picnics are fun, casual, and somehow the food just tastes better in a beautiful outdoor setting.

In PICNIC, DeeDee Stovel offers 29 picnic event ideas with more than 125 recipes – packable repasts from an informal Berry Picking Picnic to an elegant Music Festival Picnic. Although PICNIC includes all of the traditional fare, the recipes for the soups, entrées, salads, and desserts are all a cut above the ordinary.

And when lazy summer days turn chilly, enjoy a Sports Booster Picnic, a Fall Foliage in New England Picnic, and an Après-Ski Picnic. Wine and beer selections accompany each menu. Plus picnic lore, packing to go, the perfect picnic basket, rainy day alternatives, and much more. It’s an all-American feast!

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*Caribbean* Cold Rice Salad, Serves 8 (I made half a recipe)

Ingredients

6 cups cooked brown rice

¾ cup dried currants (I soaked in hot water to plump for 10 minutes, then drained)

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped (I soaked it in pineapple juice prior to assembling to prevent it from oxidizing)

1 medium purple onion, chopped (I used less)

1 medium green bell pepper seeded and chopped (I used half orange, half yellow bell pepper for color instead)

¼ cup capers

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

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Dressing

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard (I substituted Dijon mustard)

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

 ½ teaspoon ground mace (I omitted)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)

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In a large bowl, mix together rice, currants, almonds, apple, onion, pepper, capers, and ginger.

 Place all ingredients except oil in *blender and to make dressing and blend. With machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil until mixture is creamy. *If using Dijon mustard instead of dry, you can add dressing ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously.

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You can find a printable recipe here.

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 Caribbean Island Shrimp Kabobs

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Caribbean Island Shrimp Kabobs

Ingredients

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined large raw shrimp

*Wooden or metal skewers

*If using wooden skewers, soak skewers in water for 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs.

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Whisk together all ingredients in a large shallow dish or zip-top plastic freezer bag; add shrimp. Cover  or seal, and chill 30 minutes. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers.

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Grill shrimp, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Meanwhile, bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; drizzle over grilled shrimp.

Printable recipe, here.

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Tropical Fruit Salad with Toasted Coconut inspiration is from

 Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors

(Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

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I didn’t use tropical fruit other than pineapple but the magic ingredient in the salad is the toasted coconut. Toast it on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes, watch carefully since happens quickly!

You can find a printable recipe from Williams-Sonoma, here.

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“A picnic is more than eating a meal, it’s a pleasurable state of mind.”

~ DeeDee Stovel, Picnic

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Caribbean {Floating} Island Picnic Details:

Melamine Plates, Tablecloth, Placemats / Kohl’s

Hula Leaf Placemats & Tray / Pottery Barn, several years ago

Napkins / Target

Embossed Fruit Beverage Dispenser/ Pfaltzgraff

Glasses / HomeGoods, several years ago

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Caddy, Pottery Barn

Flatware / World Market/ a year ago

Flamingo, Hula Table Skirt Swag, Floral Bunting & Paper Lanterns / Hobby Lobby

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Disclaimer: The Captain of the Caribbean does not condone nor approve of

frolicking flamingos, tropical bunting or hula skirt swags on his vessel.

He did however approve of the menu :)

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Caribbean Pontoon Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

Gone Fishin’ Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

We’ve been busy packing picnic baskets, baking, and cooking up recipes for a couple of months in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Lakeside Fishing Picnic from

Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway 

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“A picnic is classically defined as a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion. But why settle for that when you can experience a Sunset Romance Picnic, a Snowshoe Picnic, or even a Dinner Picnic in Bed? Hilary Heminway and Alex Heminway share dozens of creative ways to take a meal outside, whether the sun is just coming up for the day or romantically dropping in the sky, in the heat of summer or during a winter’s chill. All-season picnics include: Sunset romance, boat on a lake, snowshoeing in the woods, rodeo tailgate, riverside barbecue, horseback riding, dog pack, picnic for children, and rainy day.”

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A minnow bucket is serving as centerpiece with Queen Anne’s Lace

 for a table on our dock at the lake for this Gone Fishin’ Picnic.

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 Aluminum fish plates, landed at Pottery Barn several years ago

join a fishing net I reeled in as a tablecloth.

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Freshwater Asian clam shells littering the dock and

left by resident muskrats dot the shoreline of the table.

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My husband’s grandfathers tackle box, complete with some vintage reels and lures

is joining the fun and ready for a little action.

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 And a Falls City Air Breather Minnow Bucket is toting the Catch of the Day,

a Fennel and Apple Tuna Salad with Pita Pockets.

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Gone Fishin’ Tuna Salad

Ingredients

15 ounces solid light canned tuna, drained

1/2 cup chopped fennel

1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pepper to taste

Directions

Mix mayo with next 8 ingredients. Combine tuna, fennel and apple and mayo, mixing well. Chill to allow flavors to meld.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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A fish planter is angling to function as a wine chiller

for a bottle of Fish Eye Pinot Grigio. . .

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And I reeled in some Goldfish Crackers for snacking.

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Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Tomato Salsa caught my eye

for a cool summer soup to tote along for a picnic from

Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

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Creamy avocado and cool cucumber are pureed in a food processor with some chicken broth, lemon juice, sour cream (I substituted Greek yogurt), a little salsa and green onion.

Season with salt & pepper and chill for 2 to 8 hours for flavors to meld.

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Garnish with a little salsa, I added some cucumber and parsley to garnish with too, topped with a Goldfish Cracker.

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You can find a printable recipe from Williams-Sonoma, here.

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No picnic is complete without a sweet ending. . .

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 Pretzels make an edible fishing rod for cupcakes with baker’s twine, a sturdy line for landing a Goldfish Graham.

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Gone Fishin' Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

Novel Baking: Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day

 

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers with Etta Mae’s Worst-Bad Luck Day

 by Ann B. Ross

This was my introduction to the Miss Julia series, set in the fictitious Southern town of Abbotsville, North Carolina. Prepare yourself for a fun ride, laugh out loud moments, a cast of colorful characters in this quick read! I hope this won’t be the last we see of Etta Mae Wiggins!

“Bestselling author Ann B. Ross is back with another lively adventure set in Miss Julia’s Abbotsville. For the first time, though, she writes from the perspective of another resident:  the hardscrabble, heart-of-gold Etta Mae Wiggins. Etta Mae is frustrated with her trailer-park life and her no-good family, and she has big dreams for something better. Working as the home nurse for the elderly but wealthy Howard Connard, Senior, she finally sees her chance—with her sexy curves and infectious charm, Etta Mae is determined to become his wife. Unfortunately, Connard’s scheming, money-hungry son and stuck-up daughter-in-law are equally determined to make sure she doesn’t. To make matters worse, Etta Me’s exhusband Skip (her first ex, that is) has shown up with a winning lottery ticket in his hand and local thugs hot on his heels. Plus, her dreamy former flame, officer Bobby Lee, keeps popping up to remind her that she’s not over him yet. In the middle of all this mayhem, Etta Mae has to get that marriage license—before it’s too late!

A hilarious wild goose chase that takes us from the mansions of Abbotsville to the trailer park that Etta Mae calls home, this book is filled with familiar faces (including Miss Julia, who narrates the first chapter), features Ann Ross’s signature wit and southern charm, and will appeal to fans of the beloved series and newcomers alike.”

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Among the colorful characters of this book, Etta Mae’s feisty Granny was my favorite:

“She came running out of the kitchen wiping flour from her hands on her apron. Wisps of white hair flew wildly about her wrinkled face, a mustard-colored smear was on her cheek, and her Reeboks left a trail of Red Band flour with every step she took. When Granny cooked, she went at it like Sherman through Georgia.”

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I took my Novel Baking cues from Granny. . .

“Gonna make me some fried pies. Got up this morning with a taste for ‘em.

Peach, I’m thinkin’.”

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My pies are baked instead of fried.

I used my Nordic Ware Pocket Pie Press that I used for my Scary Hand Pies and Pocket Plum Pies.

You can find one from Amazon, hereYou can also use a bowl as a template to cut a circle of dough for your pies, crimping the edges of your pies with a fork to seal them.

Nordic Ware Pocket Pie Press

 I made a cream cheese pastry crust, but you can use refrigerated store-bought pie crust.

I am a Novel Baker but not a baker :) and I promise this pastry crust recipe is quick and easy to make with a food processor as well as easy to roll out!

Cream Cheese Pastry

recipe courtesy of Kraft foods

2 cups flour

½ tsp. salt

1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened (I use light cream cheese)

1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor until dough comes together.

Divide into two portions, and shape into flat disks. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour, until firm.

I got 10 pies (6″ circles of dough) out of this pastry recipe, re-rolling the scraps.

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Peach Hand Pie Ingredients

1 pkg of refrigerated pie crust, or recipe for a double crust pie

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Additional sugar, or sanding sugar

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In small bowl combine peaches with sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch.

Unwrap refrigerated dough and roll into a circle. Using back of pie press, cut circle out of pastry dough. Lightly dust pie press with flour. Place dough circle onto top of crimped side of pie press, pressing dough circle down slightly in center.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of fruit mixture onto indented portion of pastry circle. Using a pastry brush, brush edges of pastry circle with egg wash.

 With handles of pie press, fold pie in half and squeeze to crimp and seal edges.

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Place pies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with additional sugar. Cut small slits in top of pie to allow steam to escape. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

You can substitute pie filling for a quick and easy hand pie if you prefer.

Cool & serve. You can find a printable recipe, here.

Peach Hand Pies

“Regardless of where you live —trailer or mansion or somewhere in between—- and regardless of what Granny says, names do count. They tell who you are, where you’ve come from, and what you’ve made of yourself, all in one word. I could’ve call myself Etta Mae Taggert or Etta Mae Whitlow or Etta Mae Connard, since I’ve been, or intend to be, one or the other at various times of my life. In between though, I’ve always gone back to Wiggins, and I don’t know why unless it’s because I figured I had to start at the bottom all over again each time.”

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“. . . Granny’s pots and cans of flowers on the porch were blooming all over the place.”

I used Granny’s cans of flowers as an excuse to play by my Potting Shed. . .

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“Every other flowering plant that lined the porch and sat on tables was planted in a Maxwell House coffee can.”

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Since this is a Novel Bakers’ review, a Swift’s Jewel shortening can is standing in for the part of Maxwell House :)

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“ ‘That Miss Granny, she something else, an’ that Miss Julia Springer, she a lady an’ a half.’ ”

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“Any book by the beloved creator of the Miss Julia series is a cause to celebrate. Etta Mae is one of the South’s pluckiest, most endearing characters, and readers will love her fun, fast-paced adventures.”

— Michael Lee West, author of A Teeny Bit of Trouble

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Visit Jain and Michael Lee to see what fun

 and trouble they cooked up with Etta Mae!

a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm

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The Novel Bakers return September 8th for Picnic Week

with themed picnics, recipes, inspiration and guest bakers!

Peach Hand Pies

Thank you for your visit, also sharing at:

Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysHome Sweet Home

Foodie Friday, Feathered Nest Friday

Stop and Smell the Gardenias

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Our Gardenias are in bloom,

I wish my photos had a

scratch and sniff feature. . . :)

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I was afraid our colder than normal winter

had taken its toll since they were a little

later blooming this year.

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 I smelled their fragrance as I stepped out

the back door before I even saw them. . .

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“Sultry as a summer evening and as intoxicating as an exotic perfume, the scent of gardenias settles like a memory onto your soul. The blossoms are just as enticing.”

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“Buds shaped like seashells unfurl into velvet soft flowers in the warmth and humidity of early evening. But it’s the fragrance that captivates.”

~Southern Living

Gardenias in the Garden

 As I pause to stop and smell the gardenias, help yourself to some Gardenia Tea and enjoy a charming book The Novel Bakers shared last summer. . .

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Dancing with the Moon,

A Story of Love at the Villa della Luna

by Jana Kolpen and Mary Tiegreen

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 “Gardenias are known to attract high spirits, induce peaceful vibrations and strengthen love potions.”

~ Dancing with the Moon

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They are also considered an edible flower and safe to brew for tea, so you can gather some gardenia blooms and petals to steep.

Brew a pot here.

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Or prepare a Gardenia Love Bath

for yourself or the birds :)

Gardenia Love Bath

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And dine with them at the

table with shells here.

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I hope you take time to

stop and smell the Gardenias!Sultry as a Summer Evening Gardenias

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis Monday,

The Scoop,  Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysTablescape Thursday,

 Home Sweet Home,  Feathered Nest Friday,

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