February Art Fun!

I’m really enjoying the monthly meetings I have been Blessed to be a part of at my local Chick Fil A (Short Pump Crossing Richmond VA)!!

For the month of February our theme was Art!! And what better way to get those creative juices flowing with the guidance of Painting with a Twist! Step by step, Shauna (owner) guided us through out masterpiece creation.

No previous art experience needed! Whether you can draw a straight line of recreate a Monet, you can paint with Painting with a Twist!

It was very basic in the beginning. But, within the hour, two brushes and three paint colors later my painting came together and had its own personality.

I won’t be opening a gallery any time soon. But my family loves it and I had a blast making it.

That wasn’t the only thing that morning…… Harlequin Books/Harper Collins Publishers sent a great art mystery read….. all about a family owned Goya painting that’s been stolen. Don’t you just enjoy a great mystery? This book and others from the book club portion can be found at:

http://www.harlequintradepublishing.com

When you think of art you tend to think of France… and look L’Occitane joined us too!

Did you know that you can grab your gals and have a mini “spa party ” at your local L’Occitane? All attendees get a special discount on their purchases and you can choose which “spa like” treatment you would all like to participate in. I’ve done one a few years ago- it was a blast!! They take care of the refreshments too!

Speaking of refreshments…. we all love to snack. I’m an expert at that – hahahaha!! In the theme of “art” the deliciousness company sent their Mozaics chips! All 5 flavors! They are popped veggie and potato chips. Packed with 4grams of fiber, great flavor and their sea salt flavor only contains 7 ingredients. They show that you don’t have to jeopardize great taste and quality to have healthier options.

As with each meeting, all attendees get their free Chick Fil A sweet tea, or a different beverage upon request.

Once again great times spent at Chick Fil A and the community.

Special thanks to:

deliciousness for the fabulous Mozaics chips

L’Occitane Stony Point for the samples

Harlequin books/Harper Collins for the amazing books they send per month for the raffle

Shout out to Painting with a Twist- Richmond VA for being a great part of the event!

Always…. a huge thank you and hugs to Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing for sponsoring and hosting “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri”, along with being a great supporter of my blog.

More details about the March meeting coming soon!!

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They’re Back!

Remember last year when Maggianos had Kids Cooking Classes? Well, they’re back and as fun as ever!

Why do we love them so much? Because kids learn a life skill while having fun! And “Foodies” are starting young these days. Don’t underestimate the kiddos- many of them have great palates just waiting to show their stuff.

The class breaks it down to a full meal from salad start to dessert finish.

With these classes they’ll learn time management. How? They start by making dessert! Since dessert needs to be baked, they teach how you can complete the meal while dessert is baking. What are they baking? A yummy apple crostata!

Hands on makes it fun and helps them get a feeling of independence.

So as their first creation is baking- it’s on to the salad!

Everyone loves the Maggiano’s house salad dressing.

While the kids are working in the chef game the parents get a lovely breakfast treat.

The class isn’t over yet! We still have to make the main course- lasagna!!

Chef Patrick takes them step by step through out each dish. And yes, he goes table to table to answer any questions or add addition guidance.

The entire meal that the mini chefs have created are packaged and bagged to be easily taken home to enjoy.

What? They don’t get to eat it there? Nope!!! Because this is Maggiano’s, and they have lunch for our star chefs in the making (yes, parents do too).

And it is from start to finish- delicious!!

So stay tuned for the next set of classes. Contact your nearest Maggiano’s for when their classes take place. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Special thanks to the Maggiano’s Short Pump Richmond staff for these great classes

And a special shout out to JAMM_SHOTZ for the great photos!!

Me and my Kitchen Gadgets

I love to cook, I love to experiment and try different cuisines. But when it comes to baking, I wish I could bake every day- though my husband says if I did he wouldn’t be able to fit out the door- HAHAHAHA!!

I’m not an experienced baker or a step away from having a bakery. I just love to bake- it is my zen!

With that being said, it takes a lot of restraint on my part to buy all those neat baking products and tools. Recently, there was a baking tool set, for some reason, I couldn’t resist!

While browsing Williams Sonoma on a recent trip to the mall…. I found the cutest thumbprint cookie cutters!! I know, it’s not that hard to make thumbprint cookies…. but, again it’s hard for me to resist. And home I went to make some cookie dough.

Why am I fascinated with them? They’re like cute little stampers!!

Too cute!!

And in an instance I have a tray full of “fancy ” cookies.

Now for the filling….. as you’ve noticed, I’ve been fascinated with the new Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl. So, why not!

I made a ganache/ icing type filling for the cookies and piped them on.

It’s fancy, like a decadent treat! I may (or may not) have mentioned before, these wonderful baking chips are NON-alcoholic but still have that great Baileys flavor we all love.

Ready for any gathering or even put them in a pretty container as a gift!

Until we bake again!!

Spruce up Shortbread

I love simple cookies like shortbread, or another cookie I found called Amish cookies- just like a shortbread just thinner.

They’re light, but sometimes they can be a little …. boring. I need something to spruce them up!

From my last article I shared a recipe using these great new baking chips from Clabber Girl, Baileys Original Irish cream baking chips. Well, I figured I’ve got some left, and I have some heavy whipping cream- to the double boiler!!!

These chips melt so beautifully, love the shine it gets.

And there it is, a nice chocolate ganache….

My shortbread is boring no more!!!

Valentine’s treats for your Sweet

There’s such a wide array of treats that you can choose from when it comes to a sweet treat for your Valentines. There are times though that you walk up and down the aisle and you just can’t find the right treat.

How about making your own? Now, now don’t give me that look! I’ve got a a great recipe that I’ve used a lot and doesn’t need too many ingredients. It’s Brazilian Brigadeiros! To make it extra special I used Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl Baking. Here’s what you need

This recipe will yield about 25 pieces.

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

4 ounces (bittersweet chocolate) Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips

2 tablespoons butter

One-fourth teaspoon salt

One-half cup sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

1) Heat the milk, chocolate, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. Takes about 15 minutes

2) The cooking process is complete when you can see the bottom of the pan when you run the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan

3) Let it cool for 15 minutes.

4) There’s two ways to complete this step, you can use a one inch scooper like I did, or you can grease your hands and form one inch balls.

5) From this point you can roll the chocolate balls into the sprinkles of your choice.

And there you have it!

It roughly takes about 40 minutes to create.

If I may, I can’t wait for the Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips to hit the store shelves!

They are AMAZING!!!

Special “Thanks!” to Clabber Girl for sharing these incredible baking chips. I can’t wait to bake with them again!!

Here’s where you can find them:

http://www.clabbergirl.com

Shiny Smile in a Jiffy

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So let’s talk about kids, braces and flossing (not the dance). Yes, it’s that phase when the kiddos need braces. And in their defense it’s not always an easy up keep for them to get used to. Aside from the wax to prevent cuts inside your mouth, and those teeny rubber bands that come in an array of colors, they have to learn how to floss around them!!!

You can use those little plastic flossers that look like Christmas trees. But that can be trying on the gums. I’ve heard that you can also use a water pick…… but if you not at home!!!

Here’s what I found….. a non-electric water flosser!!!

Super easy to use. Literally, fill the base to the line with water and pressing the trap button and away it goes!

So easy for the kids to use and perfect on the go. Helps the kiddos maintain keeping their braces clean!

Love things that help life go a little smoother!!

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Taking Savory Bites

Phew….. the Holidays are over- we made it!!

I don’t know if you noticed, but this past Holiday Season has a lot of “thumbprint ” cookie recipes that seemed to pop up. So many variations; jam, chocolate, and even a cheesecake like filling (totally want to try that one!). It may be time to go a little savory.

Which leads me to a new recipe I just had to give a try. How about Savory Thumbprints!!!

Yes! I’m talking Savory Parmesan Thumbprints!! Topped with my favorite protein- Wild Planet Foods Albacore Tuna!!!

I happened to come across the recipe for the savory thumbprints via the Land O’Lakes website. One recipe batch makes about 48 little “cookies”. Very simple and easy to do, all you need is:

1 Cup softened butter (they recommend Land O’ Lakes)

1/4 Cup sugar

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Start by prepping your baking sheet, parchment paper is my best friend when I bake. Preheat your oven at 350°. The next steps are just like making your usual thumbprint cookies.

Cream your butter with the sugar, then add your flour- don’t forget to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl so it all gets incorporated well. Last will be adding in the cheese.

Shape the dough into one-inch balls, with your thumb make indentations into the balls. I used the back of my measuring spoon since I was putting in my tuna filling. It takes about 9-11 minutes to bake.

When you go to the Land O’ Lakes website they also have savory jam fillings that you can use.

But….. since I wanted to make these little bites a little more hearty I turned to my favorite protein.

I love tuna salad, with the right tuna of course. With a savory thumbprint, texture wise it’s a real nice bite to have something a little firm. So I used Wild Planet Food Albacore Tuna. I want to compliment the tuna, and not have too many flavors going on since it is just a bite. When you open a can of the Wild Planet Foods tuna you will not find mushiness, or a lot of liquid like in other brands. Which is key for this recipe because liquid can literally make your cookie crumble!

I used Sir Kensington organic Mayonnaise, mainly because of it being already seasoned it gave a nice binding finish to the tuna and I didn’t have to add any salt and pepper. I did add a dash or garlic powder.

I took my quick and easy tuna mixture, and filled my little savory bites. Just for color, I sprinkled a pinch of Parmesan then placed the bites back into the oven to get the top a little crisper. Final touch is dash of parsley.

I like to pair this with soup or serve at a “afternoon tea” or gathering with the other moms.

Now if you’re wondering if it’s hard to find the tuna I used. Great news! I have found it in almost every grocery chain in my area. Stores such as Kroger, Wegmans and Walmart! Even happier news- Costco offers it too!!!

There’s so much more to Wild Planet Foods-

Check them out at http://www.wildplanetfoods.com