Sunday, December 20, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Mama's Favorites

Have you ever been in a house that is just like a house you picture in the movies?  You know, decorated to the nines of shabby chic, yet comfortable enough to call home?   Yep.  This place is it.  I was selected by Foodbuzz to host a 24, 24, 24 dinner, and friends of ours opened their home to us to host this special event.

Seriously, do you know about Foodbuzz?  It's a great food networking site that allows you to share recipes, meet other people who love food as much (or more) than you do, and learn how to expand your culinary horizons.  It's the best.  Oh, and the pictures.  The pictures! Beautiful food pictures from everyone, don't go there when you are hungry.

So the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24, event is hosted by Foodbuzz Featured Publishers all on the same night, and posted by the next morning.  So all over, people at the same moment are making meals, getting together and eating with one another.  It's like when everyone is placing cookies out for Santa at the same time, all waiting for something magical to happen.  Because that is what it's like when good friends get together to eat good food: magic.  And this, was our event.  A beautiful home, 7 good friends, all eating and laughing, and brining what we can to each other's lives.  However,  this dinner was special to me for another reason: my family.  They live in Colorado and New York and I don't get to see them often.  I attribute my love for baking to my mom, and my need and love to run to my dad, and my witty sense of humor to my sister.  They are a part of me, and I am so glad.  So the holidays come around and I miss them.  I miss my mom's meals.  They are incredible.  If you are in Denver, seriously let me know.  They will open their home to you, and you will never want to eat out again.  She is that good.  So our menu was in honor of my Mama:

Mama's Favorites

Blueberry Basil Salad with apricot stilton, carrots, and sweet and spicy pecans

Chicken Pot Pie with side of Peppered Green Beans

Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Cream Frosting and Sweet Cream Peppermint Bark Ice Cream

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.  My mom cooks like this all the time.  So it is my honor that I got to cook this meal for the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event.  And here is how it went:

Who doesn't love a good salad?  Growing up we had a salad with dinner every night.  And for holidays we had special salads like this one.  Mixed greens, spinach, basil, pecans, blueberries, carrots, and apricot stilton. Serious.  Oh and those roses in the middle?  My friend Kali, who is a regular Martha Stewart added that touch.  What would I do without a friend like Kali?  Besides have a plain salad, I would also be a crazy person. I love her.

I seriously felt like a professional cooking in this kitchen.  It was incredible.  The stove was blue on the inside, which matched my Le Creuset mini-cocottes that I got.  How very planned of me.  No, not at all. I just happen to love blues and yellows, and their stove happened to match.  And happened to cook a delicious pot pie crust.

I know.  Can you believe these pictures?  Our good and talented friend Abe took all of these.  He is incredible, goes beyond picturing the food to actually capturing the taste. Check out his work, he is amazing. I can't believe he came and photographed these humble pies.  Don't worry, we fed him.  Can't you just imagine that crust melting in your mouth?  My mother would very much approve of that golden brown color.  See mom?  You taught me well.

My mom makes one giant pot pie in this beautiful ceramic dish that my dad got her.  I've watched her make and bake a million things and if there is one thing that has stuck all these years it's this: never stress out.  The more homemade it looks, the better. So you see how the pie crust doesn't cover the entire cocotte on this one?  No big deal. Seriously. It tastes the same and it's made with love.  My friend Julia helped spread these out, and frankly I was so glad she was there.  She helped thicken the filling, and did it all calmly.  This girl can cook. She can bake. And I'm pretty sure she is my mother's third daughter.

And so here we are, ready to dig in.  A side of green beans completed this dish in honor of my dad.  He eats a pound of green beans a night.  Yes, one pound.  I've taken this tradition over.  I often eat a pound for lunch, or dinner, or a late night snack.  It's like our bodies have turned to green beans now.  Which, of course, makes sense. Vegetables are full of water you know.  So, eat up my friends.

Ok. Red velvet cake.  Does it get any better?  Every Christmas my mom and I make a Red Velvet Cake, and every year I love it.  It reminds me so much of Christmas that I barely want to eat it any other time.  Usually mom does a cream cheese frosting, but this year I branched out and tried something different: Cream Frosting with White Chocolate.  I like desserts rich.  I learned this from my dad.  If you are going to eat a huge piece of cake, or if you are my dad you eat the entire cake, then it better be delicious.  So make it rich.  Use real butter.  Use chocolate whenever possible.  And enjoy. every. bite.

 I tried to cut it small-er.  But I went in for seconds.  So did Julia.  Megan passed, and of course my husband had seconds too. I think the key to a good red velvet is just enough food coloring to make it red, but not too much to make it artificial.  Go for a maroon.  Such a decadent color.

You aren't going to believe me that I don't usually use food coloring.  But I made this ice cream with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, and I didn't want it to be brown.  I mean, it's Christmas after all, and Mama, she would never have brown ice cream.  Sweet cream brown sugar ice cream with peppermint bark.  I know.  But you have to understand that is my mom: goes the extra mile. Always.  We have desserts like this all the time.  She is so wonderful.  Have you met her?  She's a librarian. She's read every book, and made every dessert. She's my mama, and I am so proud of her.

And to top off the night, we had Orange Apple Spiced Cider.  Let me tell you something about my mom.  We moved from Arizona to Colorado when I was in high school and I could not get out of bed when it was below 50 degrees.  So every morning from October through March, my mom would wake up extra early and make this drink, or homemade hot coco.  Apple cider with orange and cinnamon.  This will warm you to the core.  Get you out of bed and into your mom's arms.  My husband says he would drink this every night if he could.  I should inform him he can, and at least during the holidays while my mom and dad are here, they will see to it that he will.

And what would this night be without at little sharing of our Christmas memories?  Take a look.  In order, a few of our friends: Ethan (great sense of humor, check out his blog.), Kali, Cy (my wonderful husband who is also responsible for the lovely table setting), and myself. Julia, Abe, and Megan, although faithful friends and attendees, are not filmed here.

P.S. How good is this editing?  My husband works for Apple and he is so good at what he does, and so very good to me.  I'm so in love with him.

Merry Christmas!

Blueberry Basil Salad

Mixed Greens
Basil, torn into medium pieces
fresh blueberries
fresh shredded carrots
sweet and spicy pecans
apricot stilton

Mix greens together, making sure basil pieces get mixed in well.  I only used about 6 basil leaves for the whole salad, and tore the leaves into medium sized pieces, making sure to get all the pieces mixed in well with the other greens.  Scatter blueberries, carrots, pecans, and stolen on top.  Be generous here. Your guests will thank you.  A balsamic or raspberry balsamic works very well on this salad.  The basil is so fresh, I can hardly stand it.

Chicken Pot Pie with side of green beans (serves 4) (adapted from Le Creuset)

2-3 large chicken breasts
olive oil for cooking
4 carrots
1 medium white onion
4 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup of milk (use half and half if you want it extra creamy)
1 cup of peas
1 frozen pie crust
2 egg yolks 
1 tsp milk
1 lb green beans
fresh ground pepper

Place chicken on baking sheet, brush with olive oil or butter, generous pepper, and cook at 350 for twenty minutes.  When done, cut into small pieces, however small you want the chicken in the pot pies to be.  Peel and cut carrots into fairly large pieces. A good bite of carrot never hurt anyone.  Peel and cut the onion, cooking in small pan with olive oil until brown.  Add flour, and continue cooking for a few more minutes, whisking briskly until a paste is formed. While cooking, heat chicken stock in large pot, until just hot. Don't boil.  Add milk, pepper to taste, carrots, peas, and chicken.  Mix in onion paste and stir over low heat until filling is well mixed and desired thickness is reached.  If it seems a bit too "soupy" for you, take a bit of the filling and place into onion pan.  Add more flour and whisk as before, then add and stir into the rest of the filling.    Pour chicken pot pie filling into desired container or containers, and place thawed pie crust over the top. Brush top of pie crust with egg yolks that have been whisked with 1 tablespoon of milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

Green Beans

Tear ends off washed green beans, and place in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and place in serving bowl.  Add butter and a generous amount of pepper.  Done.

Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Joy of Baking)

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
red food coloring
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bag white chocolate chips

Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes,and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour cake pans.  I chose a bunt cake, but two 9-1/2 inch rounds will do just fine.  In a small bowl, stir together food coloring and coca powder and set aside.  The food coloring will look almost non-existant here.  Just trust that it will show up later, you don't need too much.  I would say 50 drops.  In an additional small bowl, stir together flour and salt; set aside.  

In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed after each addition until combined.  Scrape sides of the bowl the entire mixing process.  Beat in cocoa mixture, then alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating low to medium speed after each addition until just combined.  Stir together baking soda and vinegar.  Add to batter, and mix until well combined.  Pour batter into greased and floured pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fork or stick can be inserted in the middle and comes out clean.  Leave in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes to cool, remove carefully from pan and let cool entirely.

Creamy White Chocolate Frosting

In medium saucepan, whisk one cup of milk into 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Cook and stir over medium heat until it's thick and bubbles at the edges.  Reduce heat to low and cook for two more minutes, stirring the entire time.  Remove from heat, and cover with plastic wrap.  In another small sauce pan, pour half a bag of white chocolate chips and about 4 tablespoons of heavy cream, and heat on medium, stirring constantly until chips are melted. Remove from heat and work fast.  In a mixing bowl, mix 1 cup of softened butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, a bit of vanilla extract, melted white chocolate, and original mixture that has been covered with plastic.  Beat on high for 15 minutes.  Make sure cake is cooled completely, and drizzle over edges, or ice as desired.  Use colored sprinkles and white chocolate chips for garnish.  Place in fridge to cool, remove from fridge at least 1 hour before serving.  

Brown Sugar Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Peppermint Bark (adapted from David Lebovitz and serves 9 scoops)

6 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 stick butter
2 pieces of peppermint bark

In a large sauce pan, heat milk, heavy cream, brown sugar and butter over medium heat until butter is almost completely melted, and sugar has dissolved, do so by stirring slow strokes constantly.  Remove from heat, and carefully whisk in egg yolks.  Make sure there are no whites in this mixture.  You will get scrambled eggs into your ice cream.  Once mixed, color if desired, and pour into ice cream maker that has been frozen according to manufactures instructions.  Mix for about 30-35 minutes (times may vary depending on mixers). Cut Peppermint bark into an assortment of sizes, so each bite is different. At the end of the mix cycle fold in peppermint bark. Serve immediately, or place in freezer until ready to serve. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving for optimum softness. Yum!


  1. This was the BEST night! Thanks Bonnie for the wonderful food, to our friends for opening their beautiful home, and our great companions! Let us do it all over again Foodbuzz!

  2. wow! fantastic and tasty dishes! I wish I could have been there to enjoy this wonderful feast

  3. Great pics and the food was delish!

  4. Great job, Bon! This was so fun and we were blessed to get to hang out!

    Love you!


  5. This looked fabulous! I so wish I could be there with you all. I better be tasting some of that yummy food when I come in a month!
    Love you.

  6. A sweet post that really shows you miss your family -- but the best was the video at the end with that heart-tugging music! Happy holiday.

  7. How beautiful everything was and what delicious recipes (and photographs)! You did a wonderful job, and made a perfect evening, to boot. Congratulations on your 24!

  8. Wonderful wonderful job. Made me want to make every recipe. LOVE the pic of the red velvet cake. Congrats on a great post for 24,24,24!

  9. Mama knows best! She always does. The pot pie and peppered beans sound delicious.

  10. What a great 24,24,24! Lovely post and great write up. I enjoyed it all very much and the food looks and sounds delicious!

  11. Well done! Beautiful pictures of a delicious evening.

    Congrats on the 24!

  12. I just got hungry from those pictures, only bad part its 11:17 pm. Great job, and I did find you on foodbuzz that place is amassing.

  13. This looks beautiful! Great work!

  14. Thank you guys so much!! You are so sweet! It was a fun time and i hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!!