Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Snaps: March Edition

In Photography, Uncategorized on March 31, 2011 at 10:05 pm

This has been a busy month full of friends, family, travel, furniture projects, lots of crafts (most unfinished… so no pics of those!) and ended in a sea of wedding dresses. ¬†Here are a few snaps:

MoMo (one and only this post I SWEAR!)

…. she is chewing me out for not – well I don’t know, but whatever it was I wasn’t doing it!

My first completed drawing this year…



Amazing what a little paint will do!


Baby J

Shannon Planning her wedding and suffering the sea of tulle…

she survived with smiles of course ūüôā

I have a ton of pictures from this month, but I will spare you.  Just a few mementos of the last 31 days Рhope April brings a beautiful spring and blessings to you all!


Loot: Cr√®me de caramel au beurre sal√©

In Baking, Loot, Uncategorized on March 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Sweet Caramel Salted Butter Sauce. Need I say more? Oh yes thanks – Shannon for giving me this liquid gold. Thanks Shannon’s cousin for living in France and making this apart of our lives. This is one of many¬†varieties¬†on the market as it seems to be made locally in each region. ¬†You can easily order it online or make your own. ¬†This stuff is so delicious you can eat it right out of the jar, on ice cream, with tea biscuits… options are endless; but, my friend passed it on because she thought I would do something fantastic with it. ¬†So here goes:

Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding:

  • 2 1/2 stale croissants
  • 1 jar of cr√®me de caramel au beurre sal√©, 220g, 7.76oz
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ounce¬†bourbon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Butter, for dish
  • Additional cream for serving, if desired

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Generously butter a small gratin dish.  Tear the croissants into pieces and put into dish, set aside.   Remove lid from caramel sauce jar and warm in the microwave briefly, I zapped mine for about 20 seconds; pour into a bowl.  Add the cream, bourbon and milk. (Keep in mind the kind of bourbon you choose Рthe flavor will remain with the final product and I used double aged so it had quite the kick!)  Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this over the torn croissants and leave to steep for 10 Р20 minutes.   Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. (adapted from a Nigella Lawson Recipe)

Spoon up the serving size you desire, drizzle with cream and enjoy. ¬†This is warming, sultry and has the salty edge that really makes the bourbon kick while keeping that ¬†controlled sweetness of a great bread pudding. ¬†Oh and the croissants make this dish. ¬†Something about the texture and the way it absorbs the¬†caramel¬†goodness – it takes on that bread pudding texture while making this contrasting crispy layer on top. It’s a quick, easy and simple must try recipe and it would be delightful without the bourbon, but we never hold back here!

Weekly Boozer: Jim Beam & Ginger Ale

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on March 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I realized when I chose this that it will be the second Ginger Ale based cocktail in a short time. ¬†But, it is H-O-T ¬†hot down here in Central Texas and this is a very cooling and refreshing drink. ¬†In fact, we were first introduced to this upon moving to the Hill Country and it quickly became one of my husband’s favorites. ¬†He loves Jim Beam – me not the most avid fan, but there is something about the sweet sparkle of the ginger ale cut by that Kentucky Bourbon twang that quite simply works.


You can of course make this libation, the recipe is on the Jim Beam website. Alas to me it is just not the same as the stuff from the can.  Which by the way is good straight from the can, but on a hot spring day such as this a little ice never hurt anything.  Hope the rest of your weekend is cool and refreshing ♥

These are a few of my favorite things…

In Cooking, Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Avocado Toast

So simple.
Grilled Butter Toast.
Toast hot from the toaster works too.
Salt & Pepper to taste.
… sometime I smear my toast with a wedge of laughing cow cheese first. Divine.

Fancy Grilled Cheese

is a grilled cheese sandwich made on Texas Toast.
brushed with bacon grease and slathered in butter.
Toasted on a hot griddle,
with pepper-jack cheese x2.
and fresh cilantro.
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Avocados are nature’s butter. They are delicious for every meal, even dessert and snack time too. I’m obsessed and hope you enjoy these soon!

Yarn Wreath

In Crafts, Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I was browsing Etsy the other night, as I often do – so fantastic, and I came across a yarn wreath. ¬†I was immediately smitten. ¬†It was the perfect craft too since I just inherited a giant bag of miscellaneous yarn. I googled. ¬†Google is another love of mine ūüôā and it lead me to this tutorial …off I went.

Straw Wreath (Craft Store – $3.50)
Felt x3 sheets (less than $1)
Yarn (free… and in abundance)
Glue gun

Directions: (Follow tutorial above) or in short –¬†Tie yarn off around wreath and begin wrapping, this takes time… elbow grease and if your yarn breaks more knots. ¬†I used A skein of Red Heart and had no such breakage. ¬†Upon completion of wrapping, tie another knot and snip loose ends. I covered this area of the wreath with my adornments.

To prepare felt flowers cut a small or large circle from felt and then cut the circle down into a spiral for twisting – there are pictures of this process on the tutorial link – Thanks Danielle you rock!! Twist the cut ribbons of felt into rose-like flowers and fasten the bottom with hot glue. Once you have created your desired assortment and figured out the preferred arrangement; secure flowers to wreath with hot glue as well. Ta Da – one unique piece of door art done!

This was a fun and easy craft (plus I made this for $5 – seriously!!). ¬†There are really so many options – I went plain and simple for my first wreath and think it will be a good gift! ¬†I have so many plans though; they involve ribbons, buttons, crochet, poms and maybe even a small cat… that is how carried away I am with these wreaths. ¬†Plus it is going to be a great outlet for this surplus yarn! Happy crafting – Emerald

P.S. March in National Craft Month – what are you making? Right now my other pending projects include: sewing an iPad cover, making a shag rug, crocheting my first afghan and yes I confess making more yarn wreaths. ūüėÄ


In Baking, Uncategorized on March 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Zeppole are Italian style donuts made with ricotta. ¬†I decided to make these today and forgo my weekly boozer in honor of St. Joseph’s Day. ¬†It seemed appropriate, since this holiday is so often overlooked for St. Patrick‘s which is so highly based on drinking. ¬†This is one of the traditional foods served on this¬†holiday¬†– hope you enjoy!


  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying, or less depending on pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp butavan (butter-vanilla baking emulsion)
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 1/2 of juice from lemon
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar/confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions: Heat oil in a dutch oven (or other vessel) to 375 degrees F.

In a medium pan, whisk eggs, ricotta cheese, vanilla, zest and lemon juice.  Into mixture combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Mix gently over low heat until combined. Batter will be sticky.

Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil a few at a time. Zeppole will turn over by themselves. Fry until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Drain in a paper sack and dust with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.

These are light, the citrus gives a freshness to the donuts without being the dominant flavor.  I had some leftover lemon buttercream icing from making lemon-coconut cupcakes Рit was a delicious compliment.  Any frosting would be great as a filling or topping for these, but they are just as good on their own. Happy feasting!

Emerald Style Champ

In Cooking, Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

My inbox has been¬†a flood¬†with recipes for Irish Soda Bread , Irish Coffee, Colcannon and Corn Beef. ¬†While they all make me hungry… this is my favorite Irish side dish – Champ.¬† Sure it looks like colcannon, but champ is native to the Northern Ireland. Champ is traditionally made with spring onions and no bacon, but I prefer it with leeks and to cook my leeks in bacon fat. ¬†Actually leeks are one of my favorite¬†vegetables¬†and highly underused if you ask me. ¬†No one asked… but there it is.

Emerald Style Champ:

1-2 large leeks, sliced and washed
4-6 pieces of bacon
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and halved
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1-2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/3 cup butter, plus additional for serving
1 fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions: Peel and dice potatoes; place into a large pot and fill with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet (rendering fat) and place cooked bacon aside.  Add prepared leeks to the grease and lightly season with salt and pepper; cook leeks until tender and liquids have been absorbed; leeks will begin to brown and char Рbest part!!.  (Note: if this is not enough fat to cook the leeks down (until tender), add a small amount of white wine or water). Remove from heat and allow pan to begin cooling; add milk and cream to pan and stir.  This will warm the cream and milk while infusing with the flavor of the leeks.

Drain cooked potatoes; roughly mash with salt and butter.  Stir in milk and leek mixture until evenly mixed.  Season with fresh cracked pepper and garnish with additional butter and cooked bacon pieces if desired.

These are amazing.¬† They are more than just potatoes I promise.¬† Something about all the butter, the leeks, and the butter that makes this amazing by itself or as a side dish.¬† Happy St. Patrick’s Day and happy cooking!!

Man-Catcher Brownies – Adapted

In Baking, Uncategorized on March 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I‘m on the hunt for “that” brownie recipe.¬† I say “that” because it is different for each person… the perfect brownie: texture, flavor, etc.¬† This is not the one (for me).¬† This is a really good brownie recipe.¬† A very good brownie recipe actually.¬† Especially if you love a cakey brownie that is slightly chewy.¬† After a couple of days in a container they became slightly more fudgy and actually better in flavor each day.¬† Day 3 was the best day overall – which is awesome, because this would be a good make–ahead recipe.

Man-Catcher Brownies adapted from Washington Post

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted (good quality)
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter/Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Melt the butter. In a large bowl combine the butter and cocoa powder.  Whisk the other wet ingredients (eggs, sugars and extracts) into the chocolate mixture.   Then fold in the flour and salt until just combined; do not over mix. Spread the batter evenly in the pan, making sure the corners are filled. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a crust forms on the surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; cool completely before cutting the brownies.

The batter itself is delicious.¬† Yes it has raw eggs in it.¬† No I am not going to die.¬† My chances are 1 in 20,000 of getting a tainted egg – I’ll take those odds for another spoon of batter please? ūüôā

Weekly Boozer: Irish Fail

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on March 12, 2011 at 10:45 am

I really REALLY wanted to do a green cocktail. ¬†It was my bright idea… since St. Patrick’s Day is next week and well not everyone is a fan of the green beer. ¬†Personally I love beer, but fun green cocktail… how could you go wrong? ¬†Well I started with what is green? Well Green Creme de Menthe (CDM) was the first thing that came to mind. ¬†I should have dug deeper. Creme de Menthe is just apparently not my thing.¬†I should have done melon… or used green dye. ¬†In fact, take last week’s post and add green dye – ta da amazing!

I tried three cocktail recipes: 1) with one jigger gin, 1 jigger heavy cream (two things I love) and then one pony CDM; 2) Irish Pride: 3 ounces Amaretto, 2 ounces Lemon Juice (two things I love) and then 3 ounces of CDM; and since neither of those was consumable I went simple with 3) 1 part CDM to 3 parts Club Soda or otherwise known as a Cold Shower. ¬†There are no words for #1…. it was just wrong. ¬†#2 was well like¬†super-powered¬†mouthwash… my life will never be the same. Also pretty sure I’d rather drink actual mouthwash. ¬†#3 sounded good! Refreshing and light. ¬†Good plan too, take out the complexity and get a good cocktail – HORRID. ¬†So I have decided either there is no good CDM cocktail, or I don’t know what I am doing wrong, or (and this is the most logical) I just don’t like this stuff. ¬†They were all pretty… does that count? Yeah I didn’t think so either.

Mind that I don’t have any experience with this¬†liqueur¬†and I am blindly pulling recipes that sound palatable from the web. ¬†So if you do like or love this stuff and you know a great way to use it, please PLEASE fill me in because while I bought a small bottle, I still have an abundance of this stuff and I hate to be wasteful.

Anyways things don’t always go as planned, recipes fail, drink green beer it’s full of vitamins*… keeping it real in the Emerald Owl Kitchen.


*Okay well maybe no vitamins, but at least it tastes good! P.S. my Dad says keep it real for the holiday and just drink good Irish Whiskey…

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

Today I needed a special kinda pick me up!  I normally stick with ice water and the occasional hot tea in the morning, but today I started with Vietnamese Iced Coffee Рdelish.

Now I don’t own a fancy smancy, albeit inexpensive, Vietnamese steel press – so I used my good ol’ french press.¬† Yes criminal I know, but the coffee police haven’t knocked down my door.¬† I am sure they are waiting for me to utilize my new doughnut pans…

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

2 spoonfuls of ground Vietnamese Coffee (or espresso, dark roast, etc.)
1 – 2 spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk (to taste – and NO substitutions!!)
3/4 cup hot water

Directions: Heat water for press, to almost boiling; grind coffee beans (medium grind) and place grounds and then hot water in press, replace lid, but do not plunge and allow coffee to steep 2-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour sweetened condensed milk into bottom of glass.  Once coffee is ready, gently and slowly plunge press, wait 30 seconds after plunging for additional sediment to settle; pour hot coffee into glass.  Stir contents to combine Рthe coffee will turn a lovely mocha color.  Top the glass off with ice and enjoy!  (If you are not in possession of either kind of coffee press just brew a strong cup of joe in your coffee maker.)

* Note: Vietnamese coffee contains chicory, so if you are going for a more authentic taste use Trung Nguyen or Cafe du Monde.

One = great morning; Two = a destroyed to do list; Three = well I will keep you posted…