Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grandma's Date Nut Bars

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Mmmm. Date nut bars, such an old fashioned treat. Dates are a wonderful fruit that have been grown and harvested for over 5,ooo years. They were essential to the diets of nomads because of their high carbohydrate content and potassium as well. But they are not the most fashionable food, probably because of the carbs, the 4-letter word of every hot diet. 

My Grandma's date nut bars have been a staple in our family since I was a little girl. It isn't any great secret of a recipe, although for years I was sure it belonged solely to my family. Imagine my surprise when I saw it on the back of a box of Dromedary Dates.  September is the beginning of date harvest, so fresh dates from California will become more readily available, and these are even better with fresh dates! But for years, the box of dates sealed in plastic was all we ever used.  Grandma would never lead me astray.  And my Grandma would have a square with a cup of coffee at 3 o'clock. A tradition I still love.  But I on earth did my Grandma ever fall asleep with a cup of coffee, from a percolator every afternoon?  Vexing. 

I once gave Grandma's date nut bars a bit of a makeover by reducing the sugar, butter and flour, I think maybe they are just a little healthier for you. But honestly, adding the rice flour wasn't really any great improvement.  I'm a bit over all this crazy substitution stuff.  So here's the way I make them.  It makes a big pan, because you just can't stop eating them.  Its not exactly a doubled version of the original, but it really works.   All I know is, a date nut bar and coffee with milk is the world's greatest breakfast. Did I mention the fiber? Dates are loaded, and with the addition of oatmeal, these babies will keep you satisfied way longer than a brownie for breakfast. Trust me, this is exactly the sort of thing I research.

Grandma's Date Nut Bars
2 boxes, 8 oz ea. chopped, diced dates
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups water

2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
2 sticks butter (salted is best)

Spray a 9X13 pan with Baker's Joy. In a small saucepan simmer the water, dates and sugar until it thickens. Take off heat to cool. Preheat oven to 375°.
Mix dry ingredients in large bowl and cut in butter using a pastry blender until it resembles gravel. Pack half of the dry mixture into the bottom of pan. Cover with the date filling and then the reaming dry ingredients.
Bake for about 40 minutes.
They are delicious warm, chilled, for breakfast or even dessert (vanilla ice cream is pretty okay with them).  They are loaded with sugar in all forms, but also filled with love and nostalgia.  Aunt Florence who lived well into her 90's would tell you how much healthier this is than that terrible stuff you buy at the coffee shop loaded with colors and preservatives.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and bake!!!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Cookies for Wedding Favors

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Oh the is the most exciting day in the life of these young people (until that first baby arrives!) and I love making cookies for them.  Usually it is for a shower, bridesmaid luncheon or the host bags.  I am not a big fan of the cookie favor at the wedding. I want cake.  Please, good old fashioned wedding cake with buttercream roses and white fluffy cake.  Keep the fondant (Blech!), the red velvet (just NO!), the chocolate (grooms cake maybe), Funfetti (think 6 yr old birthday) and gasp...naked cake... away from the celebration.  Naked!  The only reason anyone would eat wedding cake is for that nostalgic taste and feel of that icing.  But I guess I'm just old.

Lucky for me, the sugar cookie is the star of many take away bags, arrival bags, reception options and dessert bars.  I have done many cookies in the wedding theme, and they are all special to me!!

The air brushed T were for the rehearsal dinner at my son's wedding.  I just didn't have the time to pipe the T on all those cookies.  I made a lot of them, so there were plenty left over after the rehearsal, and it was nice that folks could grab one when they came to our room for a little hospitality!  It was a very fun weekend!

I dod these fun cookies for a friend.  When her company arrived to their hotel they each got a bag and these cookies were part of the gifts.  I loved to be a part of their very special weekend!!!

These were for a bridesmaid's luncheon before the wedding.  Someone saw that I had posted them and asked me to make her the same cookie.  Same invitation and bridesmaid dresses, different city!  I don't ship cookies so I was not able to help her out.

This was a custom monogram made for the bride and grooms big weekend.  The MOB sent me the booklet for the wedding which was chock full of all the events going on that weekend in the Highlands.  Sounds like an amazing time!!!  Speaking of time, this monogram....

Another bridesmaid luncheon...different colors!!

I made these for my adorable niece for her big weekend.  After I had piped 100 Mr. & Mrs. cookies, I was like, Damn!!!!  They are Dr. and Dr.!  But it just din't have that wedding feel so I only did a few of those!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Cinco de Mayo Celebration!!!

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An excuse to make margaritas, tacos, home made salsa, cookies?  I'm in.  It's also one of the prettiest times of year in the South.  We are likely running the AC, but not yet sweltering.  Lots of fun ideas this time of year, and I have a few to share.

The best version of a taco comes from the Taco Pizza.  This isn't just any pizza, it's an institution where I grew up.  The original blog, linked here, Happy Joe's Taco Pizza, is one of my most popular ever.  People move away and crave this stuff.  I encourage you to try it, I promise it is unlike any taco pizza you have ever eaten! And don't get fancy.  There is a reason this is so popular. But you know I make my mad money on cookies.  Lots of them.  So here are a few themed cookies perfect for the 5th of May!

It's an excellent time to plan a shower.  Instant theme, super colorful and an abundance of great food that people can bring! These were made for a girlfriend's party, and we watched the rain come down all day.  And miraculously at 5pm, the sun popped out!  It was a tiny bit humid, but no rain!!!

These were also a wedding shower, but it took place on St. Patrick's Day.  Funny right?  But the Irish food theme can only go so far, and the green beer could be problematic.  I'd much rather decorate with piñatas!  And eat fajitas!

This is my go to salsa.  I love this stuff.  It's delicious on a corn chip, but also great on fish, grilled steak, a beef fajita, or on a spoon.  You can alter the heat with jalepeños, and add anything that might be hanging out in your crisper!

Salsa of the Tropics

2 Mangoes, pitted, peeled, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
5 small jalepeños, or to taste, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
generous shakes Crystal Hot Sauce
4 Tablespoons Sherry vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh chopped parsley (it calls for cilantro, but hey, I'm a Petitti!)
2 fresh limes, zested and juiced

Toss everything together and you are good to go!  If it is going to be chilled for a long period of time, you'll want to make sure your olive oil doesn't get hard in the fridge.  Some less expensive brands tend to do that.