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Thanksgiving, Texas Girl Style

20 Nov

When we lived in Texas and our kids were little, Thanksgiving was a time of making extra pies for neighbors and visiting Mom-Mom’s house with a few key items we had been asked to bring. Years went by with the kids and grandparents getting older and more of the cooking, along with the ‘when and where’ of Thanksgiving dinner, became my responsibility. It was a gradual change, which I didn’t mind at all, because I love cooking and sharing a meal with our loved ones and friends we consider family.

When Thanksgiving Day finally came, our friends always made it easier with combined dinners where all the cooking didn’t fall on one person; and fried turkeys gave the men something to do while holding a cold beer and trying not to set the house on fire with the hot oil (some good memories were made around that turkey fryer). Add a few state moves over the last five years for us, and our Thanksgiving celebrations have become a quiet day of football with our little family while enjoying a very casual menu. We do miss our big gathering of family and friends, but we usually see everyone around Christmas when they make the trek from Texas to visit us and play in the snow.

For this Texas girl, my Thanksgiving menu is casual and easy. It is about having a collection of food available that will allows us to nibble all day while watching football and without the burden of anyone spending too much time in the kitchen. At the beginning of the week, homemade pies in canning jars will be mailed back home so we can share a little homemade goodness with those we love. And for my little family now located up north and our new friends who will be joining us on Thanksgiving Day, my menu combines a Texas flavor with a little bit of traditional Thanksgiving. Each recipe will be showcased here, and I will also be available Wednesday from noon to 5pm MST, Thursday from 8am to 2pm MST, via TwitterFacebook or Skype for last minute ideas, tips and tricks!

Food is Love…WH

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Thanksgiving, Southern Belle Style

20 Nov

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  For me, it is all about being with close friends and family, enjoying the people you love and feeding them well.  I grew up in the kitchens of some amazing cooks, and these women shaped me.  I learned that women can be beautiful and smart and capable all while whippin up the best Sweet Potato Pie you’ll ever eat, in heels, with their finest Sunday dress on, all while laughing and telling stories.

I also attribute my love for football and strong men on Thanksgiving.  In all my years, I have seen the most spirited debates over football, politics and racing on this holiday.  We got to callin it The Great Debate – the time these men spend in the living room, drinking their scotch or beer, eating all the yummy snacks sent out of the kitchen, timed perfectly of course.

For this Southern Belle, my Thanksgiving menu is about memories, legacy and a little adventure.  Here’s what I am cookin up this week.  Each recipe will be showcased here, and I will be available Wednesday from noon to 5pm MST, Thursday from 8am to 2pm MST, via Twitter, Facebook or Skype for last minute ideas, tips and tricks!

Food is Love!  JB

Love Your Windows! Treat them Properly.

19 Nov

Let’s talk about windows.  Bright, happy, glorious windows.  If we’re honest I think most people will admit that they don’t give their windows due attention.   I want to provide some inspiration, as well as some great tips and tricks on hanging your fabrics correctly.  I have to admit that when I walk into a room, anywhere, I look at the window treatments… how they’re hung, the type of fabric{s} used, colors, etc.  Here are some favorites…

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is hanging their hardware either too low or too close together.  How many of you have hung your hardware, just relieved that it’s level, only to hang your fabrics and find there’s a gap on either side of the window?  Admit it… it’s happened.  Window treatments are one of the simplest ways to maximize your wall height.  Hanging your hardware just a minute below your ceiling creates a dramatic effect that elongates an abbreviated wall.  Hang it at the perfect width {approx 3″ outside the window frame} and you create the illusion that your window is wider than it truly is, as well as utilize all that wonderful natural light.

A few tricks of the trade:

1.  The remnant section at your favorite fabric store can be your best friend.  If I can sew, anyone can!

2.  Please, please do not hang a 7′ fabric on a 9′ length!  Your fabric should touch the floor… pooling is optional.

3.  Your hardware need not be ornate.  Do stay consistent with scale and substance.

Make it Beautiful! ~ JB

Cook with your Kids!

16 Nov

We are bubbling up with excitement about our new initiative, Cook with your Kids!  We know that you are busy.  Between full-time careers, soccer games, ballet recitals, parent teacher conferences, church, neighborhood watch meetings… and that fella you married… how DO you find the time to cook?  We also understand that sometimes it’s scary.  All those ingredients, the tools, the timing… how does one do it? 😉

We’re kind of kidding… because we DO know it gets busy, and we also understand that it is SO much more convenient to pop something in microwave or order takeout; however, when you consider what you are putting in those sweet little bodies, we know there are better options.  We want to empower you to get in the kitchen with your kids!  My kids love cooking and baking with me.  It’s such a great opportunity to talk with your kids, learn about their day and learn something together.  Children also explore more food options when they own what they’ve made.  All of a sudden ingredients like basil and pine nuts are fun and delicious.  Yes, really…Wendy and I both have seen this with our own kids.  My girls were watching me bake bread last night while my seven-year-old read to my youngest… sisters bonding in the kitchen. It doesn’t get any better.

So here’s the plan…  We are going to post a new recipe tagged Cook with your Kids!, along with a ‘how to’ video every few days.  From homemade mac and cheese to chocolate cake from scratch… we’ve got you covered.  We would love to see a photo of you, with your kids, in the kitchen, with your final product!  Each week we will choose one family from the entries and we’ll ship off a gift basket of our new JW Food & Design Signature Foods and Gifts.  You can email your photo(s) to cookwithyourkids@jwfoodanddesign.com.  The logo above is printable as a color sheet for the kids to personalize – include it in your photo!  Wendy and I can’t wait to see what y’all discover in the kitchen!  Have fun, and remember that every measurement and ingredient is a chance to share something new with the little ones you love so much.

Food is love! ~ JB

Think Outside The Box For Gift Giving This Holiday Season… #giftgivingideas

16 Nov

I am the worst at remembering birthdays and anniversaries (even my own…my husband teases me every year) and all those other events in my friend’s and families lives that I kick myself for not remembering. (I have found a new system I think will finally work, and I will report back.) This time of year is when I am able to finally redeem myself. I may not get the cards in the mail on time if at all, but I do my very best to get Christmas presents mailed before the deadline.

My favorite part of this process is finding that perfect gift for each of my family members and friends who inspire and support me throughout the year. For my sister, I try to send sweet treats, a little something fun and something just for her to pamper herself. She is a single mom and works very hard every day to raise my two wonderful nephews. For my friends, I try to think about what they like, what makes them laugh and what they might love. These picks do not have to be expensive.

This year, I will be sending Louisiana Hot Nuts, JW Chocolate Chip Cookies, fresh bread for my nephews, JW Signature Sugar Britches Sugar Scrub for my sister and friends, along with a little something special for each one of them. Some of the personal gifts will make them laugh and others I hope they will have for a long time…a little reminder of their family who has a geographic location that allows them to drive to Canada if they so choose.  So when thinking about what to give, mail or share, take a little time to think outside the box this year. In this age of email, Twitter, Facebook and other electronic media, receiving a box or letter in the mail is a wonderful treat. And it’s the discovering of what’s in the box that is the most fun. The gift below is one of the items my husband will give me this year. He just doesn’t know it yet. 😉 Thank you, honey, for the modern wind chimes. He is so awesome!

Ateenan Aamu Chimes

Ateenan Aamu Chimes - $45

Big Hug…WH

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn – #MondayMotivation

14 Nov

I work every day to be present in my life, so I can hear the whispers of my higher self. I take the lessons I have learned over the years from the self motivational books I have read; the Oprah shows I have watched; and the people I have met and try to incorporate them into what I know to be true. I know I can’t remember everything, but little bits and pieces have stuck with me through the years to make me the person I am today. But, I must admit, I LOVE IT when someone tells me to unlearn something and think of it in a different way; especially when it is something I have been preaching to my friends and family members for years. I LOVE IT! I give this gift to you from…

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn by Martha Beck from From the May 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Enjoy the gift of unlearning something. I enjoyed the review and did learn a few things as I read (shhh…we can keep that part secret). (;

Big Hug…WH

6266 No More Onion Picker Creamy Onion Soup – #jworiginalrecipe

14 Nov

I like onion rings with a lot of ranch dressing; and I like onions in a nice red sauce: and I adore the smell of onions sizzling with some butter in a pan, but that is about as far as my love affair goes with onions. The love of my life will tell you that he likes the flavor of onions but not the onion. He will eat an onion ring by splitting it in half, pulling out the onion and eat just the breaded part. That same wonderful man also loves a good french onion soup, but will spend most of his time picking out any pieces of onion that have the audacity to be floating in his soup. This ritual, I am sorry to say, drives me insane. I am not a big fan of french onion soup and neither are my kids, but I have been making this soup for my husband since we were first married, because he loves it. I call him an ‘onion picker,’ because he spends more time picking out the onions than enjoying the soup. Well…I changed the game a few weeks ago and surprised myself with a recipe I just had to share.

While in the process of making my dear husband’s favorite soup, I asked him if he was going to take on the role of ‘onion picker’ again. His answer was yes, and he said it with a really big smile. I gave him my own smile and a look only a southern girl would understand and said, “We’ll see about that!” A few minutes and an immersion mixer later…Not one onion was left. Oh, yes, I did! (Why hadn’t I thought of this before?) I looked at him and said, “Pick the onions out of that!” He just laughed, but this burst of feisty ended up being a blessing in disguise.

A few toasted pieces of cheese covered bread later, and dinner was on the table. The flavor of the soup was my first surprise and my youngest son’s reaction to it was my second. It tasted amazing and my son loved it. My burst of joy came when I realized I had cured my husband of his ‘onion picking’ habit. Overall the soup was a hit, and ever since that burst of feisty a few weeks ago, we have made a pot of this soup every weekend.

So here is the recipe for all you onion dislikers and ‘onion pickers’ out there. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

SOUTHERN RATING: Low (only two sticks of butter)
ADDICTIVE RATING: High (especially on those cold winter days)
SKILL LEVEL: Low, but supervise if you let the kids cut up the onions
HIGH ALTITUDE TEST RANKING: No changes needed
RECIPE CLARIFICATION: Two sticks of butter means BUTTER. If the container you are holding does not say BUTTER, it IS NOT BUTTER!
TIPS & TRICKS: (1) You can make this soup a little thicker or thinner by the amount of water/bouillon combination you add. (2)I made this soup for the first time with vegetable broth for a vegetarian friend. I didn’t think the taste was any different, so I stuck with it. You can use beef broth if you like. (3) If you like onions, you can skip the immersion blender step.

JW Food and Design’s 6266 Onion Picker Creamy Onion Soup (the 6266 is in reference to ingredients and will help you remember the amounts)

Add to your favorite soup pot:
6 onions
2 sticks of butter
Saute the onions with the butter on medium until the onions are clear.
Add to your mixer bowl:
6 cups of water
6 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon Vegetable

Ingredients

Ingredients for the 6266 Onion Picker Creamy Onion Soup

Cover with a lid and let simmer for as long as you have. I have let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, and I have let it simmer for two hours. Do what works for you.

In your oven, broil/toast on low a few thick slices of bread covered with a nice provolone (try a few different cheeses to see what you like). While the bread is toasting, bring out your immersion blender (we have an immersion blender video if you don’t know what that is) and mix the whole pot of soup up. Once finished hiding that this soup may contain onions,  fill up your soup bowls, place the toasted bread on top and season as you like. Sit and enjoy with your family on a cold winter day.

6266 Onion Picker Creamy Onion Soup with Toasted Bread and Pepper

We hope you enjoy as much as we do.

Big Hug…JW

Why God Gave us Girlfriends…

14 Nov

I have been meeting new people all my life.  Raised in a military family, meeting new friends was a way of life.  I count my blessings that I have the girlfriends I do.  There’s a small handful of women who I know, inside and out, and who know me the same way.  We laugh together, cry together, dream and pray together, give each other volumes of unsolicited advice, cheer for each other and dust each other off when we trip {or nose dive into a crater}.  It’s a leap of faith to have a true girlfriend; the kind who know all of you and love you anyway.   You have to be brave, and you have to choose wisely because they aren’t all made of the steel required to stand next to you through the good, bad and the ugly.

My cast of characters is fairly well rounded… the Comedian, the Genius, the Beauty Queen, the BadA*s, the Sweetheart and my business partner, the #CoolestGirlEver.  Without them, well, I’m not sure where I’d be, but because these women are more ‘sister’ than ‘friend’, I know I don’t ever have to think about that.  We are bonded by our experiences, our present paths and the promise of the future.  If you have your own cast of characters, thank them… applaud them and love them the way you want to be loved.  Hold their hand and let them know it will always be there.  It’s a gift.

XO ~ JB

Make Thanksgiving Pretty!

13 Nov

I love decorating for the holidays.  Thanksgiving and its rich color wheel make me so happy… it’s a great time to pull out the china, your best linens, the family crystal and dazzle your guests.  This year, everyone in my house will be gone Thanksgiving week, so we put up our Christmas tree on the 6th {Gasp!} and I will not apologize for it.  That being said, if you’re home this Thanksgiving, give it its due attention. Here’s some fab and fun ideas that won’t break the bank!

I think that every holiday is an opportunity to show your family and friends how talented and clever you are.  Candied apples as dessert or sweet M&M gifts are lovely ways to offer an unexpected sweet treat.  A centerpiece of family members {photos} who aren’t able to join you is a beautiful way to include them as well as promote conversation.  Candles are a staple, and always a sure fire {no pun intended} way to warm a tablescape.  Make it beautiful & delicious and inspire your guests!

Food is love!

JB

Bread Addiction – Hawaiian Bread Rolls To Die For – Tested and PASSED #itsallaboutthebread

13 Nov

As you get to know us, you will realize just how much we like homemade bread. It all started with a recipe from my great grandmother about 20 years ago and has been in my veins ever since. In the past year, it has become a full blown addiction. My kids are now bread snobs. If my husband buys bread from the store, I am offended, so he doesn’t do it anymore. I will admit that I make bread a few times a week and sometimes daily, depending on what we have going on. What can I say? I have a problem, and my family enables me. 😉

My oldest son loves Hawaiian Bread Rolls from the grocery store, so I have been on a quest for the last few months to perfect a recipe that will make him say, “That’s it!” I have been very close on many occasions; but it wasn’t until I tried the Hawaiian Bread Rolls recipe from Kimi Gaines (we also included our recipe version below), that I knew I may have found what I was looking for. This bread ended up being amazing…the color, the smell, the finished product…I promise, you will not be disappointed.

I did ignore the directions (what’s new) and threw everything in my bread maker, minus one cup of flour. Because there was so much flour, I had to help the ingredients get all mixed up just in the beginning. For me, this recipe made two pans (24 rolls), and the bread was better than it looks in the photos. It was heaven. My son’s reaction was, “I think you’ve got it!” My husband couldn’t stop eating long enough to let me know what he thought. He just kept nodding and saying, “mmmmm.”

Hawaiian Bread Rolls

JW Food and Design’s Hawaiian Rolls with Tips and Tricks

SOUTHERN RATING: Low (Only one stick of butter and they are Hawaiian Rolls, so we really can’t lay any claim to them)
ADDICTIVE RATING: High (they store easy and smell is amazing)
SKILL LEVEL: Medium if you have never made bread before
HIGH ALTITUDE TEST RANKING: Bake at 375 degrees
RECIPE CLARIFICATION: Butter means BUTTER. If the container you are holding does not say BUTTER, it IS NOT BUTTER!
TIPS & TRICKS: (1) These rolls brown up beautifully, so just make sure you don’t take them out of the oven too soon. (2) This is what I call a slow/late rise bread. I am not even sure if that is a term, but this bread seems to not do anything at all and then all at once at the end of the rise time, it seems to get to work and rises. (3) Once the dough is formed in the bread maker, I cover with a piece of saran wrap, so it doesn’t stick to the top of the bread maker during the rise.

If you are using a bread machine…Add to your bread machine in this order: 
1 cup of water
3 eggs
1 cup of pineapple juice
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
5 cups bread flour (reserve 2 cups to add at end if needed)
4 tsp instant rise active yeast

Place your bread machine on the DOUGH cycle and let it start mixing. All these ingredients will fill your bread machine to the top, so you may have to help the mix cycle along. This is a sticky dough, but add the reserved 2 cups of flour gradually if it is too sticky. When the mixing cycle is finished, you should have a nice soft dough.

If you are using a mixer…Add to your mixer in this order:
In a 1/2 cup of warm water add 4 tsp of instant rice active yeast – set aside.
Add to your mixing bowl:
1/2 cup of water
3 eggs
1 cup of pineapple juice
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
5 cups bread flour (reserve 2 cups to add at end if needed)

Mix briefly and add the yeast/water mixture. This is a sticky dough, but add the reserved 2 cups of flour gradually if it is too sticky. When the mixing cycle is finished, you should have a nice soft dough. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen or set your oven on its lowest setting and place the bowl with the dough in the oven and cover with a towel. Leave the oven open slightly. Let the dough double in size.

General Directions: When dough has double in size, pull out of the bread machine/bowl and punch down and knead for a few minutes. Form into rolls, bread or both and place in a sprayed/oiled pan. (I can usually get 24 rolls out of this amount of dough.) Cover with a dish towel.  Set your oven on its lowest setting and place the covered dough in the oven. Leave the oven open slightly. Let the dough double in size.

Once the dough has doubled, remove the dish towel and turn the oven to 350 degrees. Leave the rolls/bread in the oven to bake. Depending on your oven, the bread should be ready in 20-30 minutes. Serve warm with butter. Yummmm

Enjoy and let us know what you think. Big Hug…JW