French Baguettes

Last Saturday I went to a great cooking class and listened to a master teacher named
“The Food Nanny”. She was just delightful and fun to listen to. She had so many food stories I could have listened to her for hours.   Here is her book. It is less than $20.00 on Amazon.
The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner: Easy Family Dinners for Every Day of the Week by Liz Edmunds (2008, Paperback) Image

  I didn’t have my purse with me so I didn’t get an autographed copy of it! DARN! But I can get it on Amazon!  And I DID get her to take a picture with me, when I told her I had a food blog. Isn’t she cute?
It’s on my other camera and I left it at work….so I’ll add our cute pic later….

Me and the Food Nanny…yeah we are real tight….snicker….

She’s a mom and a grandma too! (and she loves being a grandma best!)

Here she is answering questions after her presentation….

She made pizza dough and french baguettes both in under an hour….

Anyway, she gave us all this fantastic recipe for French Baguettes!  It takes literally 5 minutes to make. She showed us this cool baguette pan too. I ran right over after the lunch class and bought one at Spoons and Spice….. my fav cooking gadget store.

My finished french breads…..Don’t they look great?  They are crunch on the
outside and soft in the inside…perfect to my taste…..

French Baguette recipe….totally easy and seriously yummy! 

Then I went to work. A half hour later here were my baguettes.  They taste just like a crusty french bread should. And no fat!  She gave us all kinds of tips about meal planning that I thought were fabulous! In a nutshell here is her plan….
Sunday is traditional day…roast beef, chicken, those kinds of things.
Monday is Comfort food…chili, mac and cheese, easy stuff like casseroles….
Tuesday is Italian night….she does all her pastas here…she has tons of varieties….
Wednesday is Meatless night….soups, salads,Fish, or Breakfast for Dinner, waffles, french toast, pancakes bacon
Thursday is Mexican Night. Tacos, Enchiladas, mexican casseroles
Friday is Pizza night and all the kids invite their friends over for her out of this world pizza varieties.
Saturday is Grill night. They do a lot of hamburgers or chicken on the grill.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous and fun?  I thought so too.   Gotta give that plan a try. The thing she stressed, that I really liked was how she said it kept her family together while her husband flew planes in the military and later for an airline. He was gone a lot. She was like a single parent. And dinner around the table every night added structure to her day and a bonding with her kids. They still all come back for Pizza night. She has many gourmet types of pizza as you can imagine. Her favorite is arugula, fresh mozzerella, cherry tomatoes and olive oil on thin crust. I’ll do that on a later post.

Yeast mixed with warm water and sugar…..let it foam up a bit…..

Then add the flour and salt and mix up with warm water….a little at a time until it is a nice ball….Then knead
for a minute on the counter….

Here are mine kinda kneaded and waiting to be put into the pan….took 5 minutes to make and roll!  

I went over to Spoons and Spice to see if I could find a “Baguette Pan” 

 HERE is a page full of coupons to Spoons and Spice. It’s a really fun place to browse around if you are a foodie like me.

You can see it says “Italian Bread Pan”  Hey! I thought it was French Bread?! 

Anyway it looks cool….it’s 2 long u shaped pans for breads….

The food nanny makes this bread and gives it away for people’s birthdays and special occasions. What a great gift idea and so quick. Who wouldn’t love some hot french bread homemade by you?

Here’s the Baguette pan.  It was only $5.99!  

Recipe for French Baguettes… SO EASY!
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups flour add a cup at a time
Add up to one cup warm water to get perfect consistency

Mix up first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for 2 or 3 minutes. Then in a separate bowl add salt and flour and then warm water. Mix and then knead for a minute. Roll out in 2 loaves and lay them on greased baguette pan and let rest for 15 minutes under a towel (it will rise a bit).  Then bake 450 for 15 minutes or until golden colored.   This whole french bread takes about 35 minutes total to make and bake.

So here they are before the 15 minutes rising time…..Both have their own tube to sit in….

And here they are after the 15 minutes rising time….I put a line down the middle of each with
a sharp knife just before popping in the oven….it will look just like french bread when it has been baked! 

Wha la!  Ready for a hot 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes….watch it the last  minute or so…..

And here they are, hot out of the oven! French Baguettes are light and crispy! 

Well, they are just plain DEEE-LISH!  That’s what they are! My hubs liked them
a lot. And I sent one down to my friend Lauri down the street. Spread the lovin!   
Then Spread some REAL butter and dig in!  mmmm….Yummy! 

Cranberry Salsa Dip with Cream Cheese

I went to a Valentines Dinner Party the other night and I tried the most delicious dip! It was with fresh cranberries and cilantro with a little jalapeno, lemon juice, sugar and cumin. It sounded so easy. I hung out by this dip the ENTIRE night!  It is embarrasing when I find something I love I just can’t stop eating it!  That’s my downfall! FOOD!  go figure…..

Oh YUMMY is this stuff heavenly!  I could stand here and eat it all day!  

Cranberry Salsa Dip with Cream Cheese

12 ounces or about 3 cups fresh cranberries chopped in blender or chopper
1 green onion, VERY finely minced (I used mostly the green ends)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, cored,  and finely diced (cut it in half if you don’t like some HEAT)
3/4 cup sugar (you can add a whole cup but it is very syrupy and sweet…I’d knock it down to 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, light or regular, softened
Wheat Thin Crackers, for serving or Tortilla Chips
Chop about 3/4 cup at a time in your blender on “pulse”…or use a food processor for speed….
You can freeze fresh cranberries in the bag to use all year…did you know that?  Yeah,
the cranberry salsa keeps in the freezer too….so I put half of it away in a tupperware for another party!  
It looks like a lot of cilantro when you are done…so you could go less on it if you wanted….
The sugar is really sweet….It would taste okay to use less if you are watching sugar intake….

My hubs bought the jalapeno and it was large so I only used about half of it
and saved the other half for chili I made the next day….

I didn’t have a lemon so I used lime juice….It was okay but I think lemon tastes much better…
but lime will do in a pinch for sure! 

Pick over the cranberries looking for smashed or bruised ones. Then use your blender for the cranberries or a  food processor and  coarsely chop about 3/4 of a cup at a time.  Put into a bowl and add the sugar. Then chop the green onions, cilantro, jalapeno and add them in and mix up. Then add cumin, lemon juice and salt and mix. Transfer the mixture to a covered bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to overnight) so cranberries lose  their tartness.

When ready to serve, put the block of cream cheese on a really pretty plate.  Top with the cranberry mixture.  Surround the plate with wheat thins crackers.  So very Yummy! 
I really like it with Wheat Thins because chips fall apart when you try to push them
into the cream cheese….it may be better with soft whipped cream cheese…but it wouldn’t look as pretty on the plate…..

You could line the pie plate with cream cheese and pour the cranberries over it…
but I think the block looks so elegant and pretty spread with the cranberry salsa…..

I wonder if it would be good on a fresh turkey sandwich…hmmm….I’ve got a
turkey in the freezer too…I think I’ll have to experiement on that!!  

My friend Debbie shared the recipe with me at the Valentine party.  It’s a great appetizer for any get together. The thing is we have to stock up on those cranberries when they are out in the produce section.  I happened to have a bag I had stashed away in the freezer. So lucky day for us!

Valentines Dinner party….for the fam…. I got some cute,
glittery red candles for each of the adult girls in the fam…you
can see them on their plates with a note.  

My Valentine Dinner table…so cute, right?  I love the hanging heart ornaments hangin
from the chandelier….

Here’s my granddaughters at their little Valentine kiddie table with the heart plates….aren’t they sweet?  

And the hubs got me some Valentines flowers….I forgot to take a pic
till the little baby roses were kinda wilted….oh well…it’s still a fun memory…

I love that guy still after 30something years….

Texas Sheet Cake for dessert…..done by cute Caitlin and Devin…the newleyweds…

And yummy German Chocolate brownies…done by my daughter Tiffany….

And cute Valentines Strawberry cupcakes….the kids loved these….

And we played this very fun game….check it out sometime!  

  It’s a great Valentines Day dip for a fun party or for anytime! 

Valentine Cupcakes

Cute girls who LOVE cupcakes….my granddaughters! 

I’m looking through Pinterest and online to find some easy “kid friendly” ways to do really cute decorated cupcakes for my little 7 year old students and also for my grand kids who are 4, 3 and 1 1/2.  They have to be really cute but REALLY easy too.  Here are some that I found….that I loved…..

These cute designs are from Dessert Deli…but they look kinda hard to do…..I need EASY!  

Cupid Cupcakes
I like these because the design is all in the cupcake papers and the cute candy on top….We can all find CANDY for VALENTINES DAY!   That would be easy….and just some cherry flavored pink icing! 

These Darling Cupcakes are from Cutest Food. The link  is HERE. She has LOTS of cute designs!  And I could do a few of these using a pastry bag with red icing on pink or white!  Maybe even the stripes and dots….with some pink and red M and Ms to dot all over the tops! 
I found some cute stencils at Michael’s from WILTON for decorating cupcakes.  They are very cute too, and they look kinda easy.  Maybe my classroom kids could even do them.  My granddaughters get a little carried away shaking sugar on cookies and cupcakes.  So I came upon a plan for next time.  I will use a small piece of tape and tape all the holes on the inside of the shaker except for one.  That way they can’t dump the whole mess of sugar onto only one cupcake!   
Valentine Cupcake and Cookie Stencils
Easy WILTON stencils…kids can do these really easily….just don’t let
them overdo it on the sugars…..I’ve done THAT!  


Notice the cookies are only iced with white or pink icing and the decor is all from red or pink sugars! Easy! 
An easy video for decorating CUPID CUPCAKES can be found HERE at Cupcake Decorating Ideas.

Bulletin board at school….I’m all ready for Valentine’s Day!

Here was our fun decorating table last year for the Valentine Sugar Cookies….I found these cute  melamine plates at the grocery store for 99 cents!  We did pink icing and had lots of candies and sprinkles….the kids LOVED it! 

Sugar Cookie Masterpieces from last Valentines Day…..  

But this year let’s do some Cupcakes!  

I’ve got lots of sprinkles and candies on hand……

A cute pan to make some candy toppers too!  This is from WILTON!  
I HAD to throw this goofy pic of my son in here… funny! We are
eating dinner at my favorite place….TEXAS ROADHOUSE!  And this
is my darling grandbaby Josie, and her cute mom Wendy…  Yeah…Jeff’s gonna kill me for this…hehe….
And we can’t forget some conversation hearts….kids LOVE them!  

I loved the colors on these….that HOT PINK IS SOOOOOO PINK!   And it looks really good with chocolate sprinkles….
and I HAVE some of those!  Cool!  
These are from the Treat Boutique….I love how they added edible glitter to the tops….I’ve gotta try that!  
These cute ones are from Clarissa’s Creativity Space…..They’d be cute as “LOVE BUGS” for kids I think…..don’t you?
And how hard are some dots and stripes?  The little heads are mini oreos with some white dot eyes and smile….EASY!
There’s that HOT PINK again….CUTE!  
These cute ones are from Mel’s Sweet Treats…..The toppers are simple to add…the rest are just icing and sprinkles….VERY simple even for kids to create!

I have GOT to make some cupcakes today! 

Super Bowl Party Foods

Which team will win the Super Bowl on Sunday?  There are always some sports fans among my classroom kids who know the players and the teams. They even knew the team colors, can you believe that?  They all love Tom Brady and think he’s going to be on the winning team.

We each cut out a football to “VOTE” for our Team! Go Team!

Well, we shall see.   I have a fun little challenge for my classroom kids.  Those who predict the winner correctly will win a football sweatband for their wrist.  Those that predict incorrectly get to do 12 pushups.    I have lost in years past. It wasn’t pretty watching me trying to do PUSH-UPS EITHER!

Our class graph….looks like the Patriots might be the favorite!  

This easy baked brie has dried cherries and pecans and jam inside. I shape it like a football and then cover it with puff pastry. The recipe for the Baked Brie is HERE.  At the Pepperidge Farm Website you can also watch a video on how to make the Baked Brie. It is to die for Yummy as a cracker dip!

Super Bowl Baked Brie with Puff Pastry

I shaped my Baked Brie cheese like a football using the Pepperidge Farm  Frozen Puff Pastry

I put the letters on with the extra puff pastry. I fill it with raspberry jam, some brown sugar, pecans and dried cherries. I bake it till just before the Super Bowl starts.  Triscuits, Pretzel Ritz and Wheat Thins are good with it…..

Yummy baked brie with dried cranberries and pecans inside..

This yummy stuff is my black bean and corn and avocado salsa.  It’s a really fresh and delicious SALSA. 

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This yummy black bean salsa is made from black eyed peas OR black beans, white sweet corn, green pepper, avocado, tomato, cilantro and purple onion, with a few dashes of lime and Italian Salad Dressing and salt and pepper. It’s a crowd pleaser with Tostitos and these yummy pretzel crackers. and very filling!

Touchdown Treats
Cute little football player cupcakes would be so fun for the kids at a Super Bowl Party…..not to mention the big, male kids who are attending the party!!! lol….. you know who you are! 

HERE at the Family Fun website I found these cute cupcake football players I thought would be super cute to make for a Super Bowl Get together……M and Ms for the eyes and yellow buttons, black skinny licorice for the facemask.  Kids would LOVE these.

These football  cookies were from “On the Record Sports” and would be easy to make
from a chocolate cookie recipe….Only need a little icing in white!
Here at Luxe Finds was a cute way to do your  Super bowl 7 layer dip!

 I’d make the guacamole layer show on top and make lines from a piped bag of sour cream….then top with 2 colors of cherry tomatoes….so cute! 

Now here’s my dipped strawberries…what if you added the white FOOTBALL laces in white chocolate on
top OF EACH chocolate strawberry….and removed the stems…wouldn’t they look like footballs? Yeah they would….yum…another idea….
Football Cupcakes.jpg
Here at Houston Press is a great recipe for making these cute football cupcakes for Super Bowl Sunday. 

Oh WOW…. these “football” shaped cupcakes look yummy AND EASY….
or make them as sugar cookies topped with chocolate icing and the white lacing….EASY PEASY!

Or you could do soft pretzels. Check them out HERE at Weekday Chef. They are yummy. I’ve made the pretzels shaped like pretzels or just as pretzel bites. They are a bit time consuming but not really all that hard 

Soft Pretzels:

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt
For the cheese sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
Directions for Soft Pretzels 
Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
You boil them first, then bake them second. They turn out great every time! 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. 

Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Those will be good Super Bowl Party foods, won’t they?
They’ll go nicely with PIGS IN A BLANKET  and CHICKEN WINGS FOR SURE!