Summer Sunset

Photo A Day – August 10th through August 19th

August 10th: Drink

A perfect drink day or night…and BONUS…treat receipt!

August 11th: Love

BabyFace loves cool cars…and this race car was definitely cool!

August 12th: Bag

Perhaps one of my favorite bags of all times…

August 13th: Mail

Monday mail at the office…the slow day.

August 14th: Dark

My favorite kind of dark…dark chocolate.

August 15th: Sky

An evening sky…the sun trying to push through the clouds.

August 16th: Breakfast

I know, I know…breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Well, this day, all I had was coffee.

August 17th: Water

The water feature at the spa…great way to get me in the mood for my massage.

August 18th: Sweet

Sweet…free hot dog topped with SaSo.  The best damn hot sauce around!

August 19th: Radio

Sorry…I lacked creativity today.  The radio button in the car.  Out of focus at that.

Honey Apple Brie Bites

There are occasions where little smokies and beer cheese dips are the perfect pairing. Like a football party. [Have you looked at the calendar lately?  Football season is upon us.  Keep those recipes on the top of the pile.]

But a bridal shower deserves an appetizer with more class.  More sophistication.  More elegance.  And there enters my Easy and Impressive Appetizers cookbook recently purchased from Pampered Chef.

Want to make your guests think you’re a genius in the kitchen?  Pick up this book, open to any page and make it.

I opted for the Honey Apple Brie Bites. There’s something about brie that makes me think high class.

The official recipe lists two steps.  But that’s assuming you’ve zested your lemon, toasted your walnuts, diced your apples and cubed your cheese.  But even with adding those steps in, it’s a pretty simple thing to throw together.

In my crazed party mode, I completely forgot about the walnuts.  But it turns out phyllo shells are really, really small.  So small, that I had to go back and cut my brie cubes in halves and quarters just to fit.

Now I’ll admit, I’m not one who likes nuts in my baked goods. I find that walnuts seem to take over in a perfectly fine brownie or in moist banana bread.  So perhaps it was my subconscious overlooking this particular ingredient.  But I honestly don’t think this recipe needed anything more than the brie and apples.  Did I mention how small those shells are?  Nuts would have just taken up space better used on apples.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Honey-Apple Brie Bites

1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup toasted walnuts (optional)
2 medium red apples, finely diced
1/4 cup honey
1 4-inch Brie cheese, cut into small cubes

  • Preheat over to 400°F
  • Combine lemon zest, walnuts (if using), diced apples and honey in a bowl and gently mix.
  • Arrange phyllo cups on a large cookie sheet and place one Brie cube into each cup.  Top with a scoop of apple mixture.
  • Bake 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted.

BTS Tips:

  • Phyllo shells don’t give you much room.  Dice those apples into very fine pieces.   Same goes for the Brie.
  • I had a hard time getting much apple chutney on top of the brie cube, so I filled the cup with the apple mixture first and then placed the cheese on top.  This helped with monitoring the cheese melting as well.
  • These little suckers were gobbled up by the ladies.  I would recommend getting 3 packages of phyllo shells.  There should still be plenty of Brie and apple mixture to use as filling.

Makes 30 cups

Recipe from Pampered Chef

Photo A Day – August 1st through August 9th

August 1st: Street

A cheery street to welcome me to the gym.  Some days I need that encouragement!

August 2nd: Book

Not to get all Chick-Fil-A on you, but I could resit.  The Book was literally on display when I arrived home.

August 3rd: Phone

The phone that sits on my desk.  I was tempted to leave it off the hook.  I resisted.

August 4th: Tree

The perfect sun spotlight on a beautiful tree.

August 5th: Left

Ah, the left overs of a wonderful bridal shower.

August 6th: Light

The newest light added to our house.

August 7th: Line

20120807-165224.jpg

A perfect line down my Dove Dark Chocolate bar.

August 8th: Change

I honestly had change in my pocket at the end of the day…shocking since I hardly pay with cash.  I’m more of a plastic girl myself.

August 9th: Fence

Decorative white picket fence.

Midnight

Photo Credit: The Banker

Grand Central Station, New York City

Lavender Shortbread

I was treated to not one, but two different lavender desserts while in the lush state of Washington.  The first was a devine lavender cookie from Blackbird Bakery located on Winslow Way of Bainbridge Island.  It was enjoyed outside sitting at an old fashioned concrete chess table under a shade tree.  The second was from Three Girls Bakery in the Post Aly of Pikes Place Market while watching the world walk by. 

Knowing I was making lavender lemonaide for an upcoming bridal shower, I immediately decided another layer was going toadded to the menu.  After all, I already had lavender flowers in the house.  A few internet searches later, I found the one I was ready to try.

Look a the beauty of the lavender flowers with the bright yellow lemon zest.  Love.

This was my first attempt in shortbread.  I was suprised at the lack of ingredients and the look of simplicity reading the instrustions.  Then I was taken by surprise by how few cookies it made and quickly decided that another double batch was in oder. 

They were so yummy, I decided that they were going to be part of my take-home treats for our guests.

Thank God for good neighbors…I was two eggs short for the last batch.  To reward her for  her generosity, she was presented with the final product.  She came back to thank me!Let me tell you why you need to make these for your next party: Rolling out the dough to make the cut outs is like playing with stress releiving playdough.  No joke.  In the midst of party planning, food prep and house cleaning, the scent of lavender and the slow, intentional motions forming perfect hearts and flowers was so calming.  And if it can calm my craziness, just imagine what it can do for you.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Lavender Shortbread

¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp lemon zest
1¾ cup  flour
3 large egg yolks
1 cup  sugar, for coating

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Gently mix the powdered sugar and lavender together in a bowl
  • In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, lemon zest and lavender/sugar until smooth
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined
  • Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, not letting the dough get too firm
  • Roll the dough out to 1.5cm thickness
  • Pick your favorite cookie cutter and go to town
  • Dip each cut out into the granulated sugar, coating all sides
  • Bake on the parchment lined pan for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges

Makes about 12-15  small cookies.

Recipe adapted from this blog post from Milk and Cookies.

Yellow Lilies

Yellow Lilies found on Winslow Street, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Bella Umbrella

People who hate to be rained on, visitors of Seattle, lovers of umbrellas: do I have a store for you!  Bella Umbrella.  I recently found this lovely gem during our family vacation and fell in love.  In LOVE, I tell you.

It can be found on the corner of 1st and Pine, just a (steep) block up from the Pikes Place Market.  We initially walked passed it on our way to the Space Needle.  The Banker and I both noticed it, but forged ahead to the next landmark destination.  But neither of us could resist the temptation on the walk back and were lured into the store.

We were greeted by colorful umbrellas everywhere.  Hanging from the ceiling, perched on the floor, waiting in umbrella stands just begging to be opened.   Everywhere.  The kids quickly found their table located conveniently in the front of the store.  It’s a kids dream to be able to open every umbrella inside.  They found Disney Characters and Hello Kitty; bugs and animals, bright colors and see through umbrellas.  BabyFace selected Super Man and Marshmellow went with the adorable pink ruffle.  Very cute.

The Banker was drawn to the travel umbrella section.  He found some nifty umbrellas that folded very small, were very light and could open AND close with a push of a button in a rainbow of colors.  He ultimately selected a standard black umbrella with a handsome wooden handle (and a lifetime warranty).  The handle cuts down on the size and adds to the weight, but it definitely has the classy factor any banker would desire.

And then there was me.  I was a kid in a candy store wanting one of everything.  Adorable lace parasol?  Yes please.  Super sleek pagoda?  Of course.  Fashion umbrella with fancy floral layers and jeweled handles?  Sounds dreamy.  A ruffled umbrella in bright pink?  Absolutely!

But we had a one umbrella per person limit.  Which even that might be extreme, given our climate at home really isn’t known for rainy days.  But who cares?  This store is awesome!

What to do?  What to do?

Ah…the Spanish umbrella adorned with pale pink polka dots with a dull grey to really make them pop.  Atop is a dangerous looking walking tip.  Below is the embroidered leather curved handle with even more polka dots.  To finish the look, a large bow hangs on the side of the opened umbrella.  I’m not going to lie; it was a bit of a splurge.  But the umbrella spoke to me and said, “Take me home.”  So I did.  But to justify myself, it also has UV protection, so can totally double for a parasol.

The really cool thing?  They rent umbrella’s too!  If you’re planning an event where rain might be in the forecast and you need umbrellas to usher your guests to and fro…this is the place.  Or if you want your dutiful brides maids to carry umbrellas dripping in white feathers…this is the place.  Umbrellas really would be awesome in a group photo too.  I’m just saying.

Now, Bella Umbrella might not be the reason to travel to Seattle.  But if you’re in the area, you really should just stop in and play for a while.  Go ahead…open a few of them, inside!

Photo A Day – July 29th through July 31st

July Photo A Day Success!

That’s right folks.  Today is already the last day of July.  And with only one fail for the month, I think I did pretty darn good.

I hope you join me for my August Photo A Day Challenge.  If you want to link your posted pictures to this blog, drop me a comment and I will add a new PAGE to this blog with your link.

sam

July 29: Last Thing You Bought

Vacation Souvenirs: 2 necklaces, a sweatshirt and some salt water taffy.

July 30: Calm

 

Finally bedtime.  The calmest moment of my day.

July 31: Toothbrush

 

Didn’t seem right to take a picture of my used toothbrush.

Poulsbo and Sogno di Vino

During our time on the Kitsap Peninsula, we found an adorable little town by the name of Poulsbo or “Little Norway.” My Scandinavian roots were intrigued…

I wanted to take my time in each and every one of the quaint little shops featuring antiques, Norwegian nit-knacks, and baked goods.  Instead, we quickly walked the streets and ushered cranky children back into the car.  But I left unsatisfied and insisted we return.

After an enjoyable afternoon roaming the streets, savoring another cup of local coffee, and dreaming of how to redecorate my entire house beach cottage style, it was time for more food.  Two restaurants were recommended: Mor Mor Bistro & Bar for fresh northwest flavor and Sogno di Vino for authentic Italian cuisine.  The Banker had  his fill of local fare and opted for Italian.

I was allowed to dine alfresco.  Our table sat under a 100 year old Magnolia tree wrapped in white lights and I was able to see the Puget Sound, marina and the adorable street all at once.  Add a glass of a local blended white wine to the mix, and I was one happy girl.

The food!  I haven’t talked about the mouth-watering food that was placed upon our firepit adorned table. Of course, every Italian restaurant will serve fresh bread.  Sogno di Vino was no exception.  The flavorful bread had a salted crust and was drizzled with what I’m assuming was infused olive oil.

The Banker ordered the Tuscan Steak with Espresso & roasted almond mascarpone that was served with fingerling potatoes, balsamic braised shallots and asparagus.  My fork may or may not have reached across the table a few times.

In typical form, I made my order slightly more complicated.  I ordered the Strawberries, Beets and Feta salad…hold the beets, add chicken.  It came with spring greens, strawberries, candied pecans, feta and a Raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette.  I practically licked the bowl.  If we hadn’t already eaten all the bread, I would have used it to soak up the left over dressing.

Should you ever find yourself anywhere near this darling town, either on Bainbridge Island or in Seattle looking for a day trip, you need to go.  Preferably without children so you can actually enjoy the quiet streets and shops in peace.