Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Camille asked me to host this dinner months ago while she was helping Barb plan her visit, and I agreed happily. But at the beginning of the week, I was overwhelmed with all I had going on. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this dinner. But, as the week went on, things got easier, and it became a joy to work on the dinner! I shopped, set the table and prepared a couple of dishes Thursday night, so when Friday came, I was really excited to host my friends!
I kept the menu really simple. I served vegetables and hummus as an appetizer, and grilled salmon, quinoa, roasted asparagus and a delicious salad (I will share it with you soon) for dinner.
For dessert, I bought an apple cake at the store, and it wasn’t until the next day when I realized I should have made this rustic Apple and Cheddar-Cheese Cake from Cake Keeper Cakes. The cake is very easy, and would have been a snap to whip up the night before. My daughter made this cake for our family, and we all enjoyed it. It is not a very sweet cake, and it is definitely rustic, but it would have been the perfect ending for my prayer group dinner. Oh well! Next time.
prayer group dinner where I paired it with the black and white toile table runner. This time I used my square of red and white toile (left over from my 4th of July table) with the burlap runner.
Valentine’s table I did. I knew they would look great for summer too!
I saved some of the still nice white flowers from 4th of July and added some sunflowers in a white pitcher for my centerpiece and I added my new white candlesticks from Pier One to balance the centerpiece.
Adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cu into ¼-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with flour. Combine the dry ingredients, flours, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, in a medium bowl.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixture for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixture on medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of bowl after each addition.
With the mixture on low, add ½ of the flour mixture. Add the milk and then the flour mixing until just combined. Stir in the cheddar cheese and apple.
Scrap the batter into the prepared pan smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake, comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert on a wire rack and then turn it right side up on the rack to cool completely.
If you are looking for more table inspirations, please check out Between Naps on the Porch where you will find some great table settings.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Summer has been slow to come to us this year. We've only had a few days over 80°F. And, to make matters worse, we vacationed in Olympic National Park in Washington where, if you believe most of my pictures, we were on a winter vacation. It wasn’t quite as bad as my pictures would lead you to believe, but I told my family we were going to vacation somewhere warm next year! I’m thinking of booking a trip to one or two of the national parks in Utah. Maybe we will be assured of warm weather then.
The 4th of July was quiet for us this year. We usually throw a big party on the 4th, but Les had to work, so we held a smaller barbeque on the 2nd. Our friend Janet invited us over to their place to see the fireworks on the 4th, so my son and I headed over after dinner to join them, and it was great fun!
The neighbors put on an impromptu fireworks display in the street before the big fireworks started, and Janet brought out these delicious sweet treats to tempt us away from our diets. I tried to resist, but I love toffee, and these had some of the same flavors. I’m pleased to say, Janet sent me home with the recipe, so I could make them myself.
I can’t believe how easy this chocolate toffee bark is to make, but they taste like you’ve been making candy for hours.
Chocolate Toffee Bark
Adapted from www.rachaelray.com
12 to 16 whole graham crackers
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 15 X 9 baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Line the baking sheet with graham crackers breaking crackers as needed to cover the baking sheet completely.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture boils and thickens. The mixture should have a caramel texture. Pour the caramel mixture over the graham crackers and spread so it covers the crackers completely.
Place graham cracker and caramel into the oven and bake until the mixture bubbles, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Place back into the oven to soften the chocolate chips, about 1 minute. Spread the chocolate chips over the caramel, and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least an hour or until the mixture is completely cool. Remove from the freezer and break into pieces. Keep bark in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm.