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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

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

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

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

A Chocolate Chip Cookie So Good That Your Tongue Will Jump Up and Slap Your Brain… #jworiginalrecipe

7 Nov

We think these cookies are so good that in the words of Paula Dean, “Your tongue will jump up and slap your brain!”

Between us, we’ve tried our share of recipes, but could never find the recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Recently, we were testing recipes and tossing them back and forth. It was getting to the point where we thought we might never hit ‘THE ONE.’ We decided to try a different approach and use the recipes we were testing as a guideline to create our own version of the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. A few tested versions and an ingredient mistake later, and ‘The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie’ had been created. And we are proud to say it has been a hit!

We knew we had something special as soon as we tried the first hot bite right out of the oven. Our family and friends agreed, and our kids went gaga over them.  Joanna’s two-year-old woke up in the middle of the night a few times saying, “I just want da cookie, Mama.” One of Wendy’s friends has a four-year-old and, after trying his first one, he said, “I just can’t help myself. I want more.”  And Wendy’s college age son agreed that the cookies were so good that you can’t stop eating them. We always love a good compliment, especially if it’s about something we’ve made, so we loved the feedback from the kids and knew we had a winner.

The information and recipe below will help guide you to Chocolate Chip Cookie Heaven. We have tried to be thorough. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.

Cookie Heaven

"Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie" Photo Credit: Harle Photography, Green Bay, Wisconsin

SOUTHERN RATING: High (It contains Butter Flavored Crisco)
ADDICTIVE RATING: High (especially those little bitty ones)
SKILL LEVEL: Low, but supervise kids using the mixer and the oven
HIGH ALTITUDE TEST RANKING: Bake at 375 degrees; otherwise, no changes needed
RECIPE CLARIFICATION: When ‘mix really well’ is listed, it means mix on the highest speed you can without the batter being launched out of the bowl
TIPS & TRICKS: (1) Day 2 and beyond (if they last that long),  heat up a few cookies in the microwave for a couple of seconds for that right out of the oven taste. (2) Double the recipe below to make a huge batch of cookies that will last a few days. (3) You can substitute chopped up candy bars for the chocolate, but to get the best experience…USE THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS! (4) We like these cookies bite sized and so do the kids.

JW Food and Design’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and follow directions below in order listed:

Add to your mixer bowl:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening {Butter Flavored Crisco – this is a critical ingredient}
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
Mix really well
Add to your mixer bowl:
2 large eggs
3 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix really well
Add to your mixer bowl:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Mix really well (slower speed may be needed as the dough thickens up with the flour)
 Add to your mixer bowl:
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks

Scoop your desired cookie size and bake for 11 minutes for a soft cookie. Adjust baking time up or down a minute depending on your oven or how soft or crunchy you like your cookie. Serve with a smile and a glass of milk.

Big Hug…JW

101 in 1001

7 Nov

A few weeks ago I was introduced to a photography blog of a friend of a friend.  While the photographer’s work was lovely, something else on her site caught my attention.  She’d made a list of 101 things she wanted to achieve in 1001 days.  They were quirky and fun, personal and tenacious. It inspired me.

When I shared this with Wendy, we decided to do the same.  We have a ways to go, but want to share what we have thus far.  We also want to encourage you to make your own list.  This is different from a bucket list in that this is specific, time oriented and takes deliberate effort.  It may be personal, or professional, or a combination of the two… but it’s yours.  Some of these are ours specifically, and some are mutual goals.

1. Know enough about fishing to enter a fishing tournament.
2. Hike the Pacific Coast Trail. – JW
3. Publish a cookbook with a friend. 😉 – JW
4. Swim with the stingray in the Cayman Islands with my kids.
5. Learn how to ski well {this is ALL Wendy, but I will go and watch!}
6. Jump out of a plane with my husband and my kids and having a parachute would be fun also.
7. Learn to kayak and go river rafting. – JW
8. Do a hike-in camp for a week in the Colorado mountains with the family and friends.
9. Go to Madrono Ranch Hog School. – JW
10. NRA Colorado Elk Hunt and Women’s Gun Camp. – JW
11. Do the Texas Water Safari. – JW
12. Do a cross country bike ride.
13. Put something together about starting a business doing something that brings me joy and is focused on what I love doing. – JW
14. Hit 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. – JW
15. Create a unique and profitable retail collection. – JW
16. Publish our story. – JW
17. Eat the best pizza in Italy w my family and Wendy & her family. – JW
18. Spend two weeks in Bali. – JW
19. Hike through South America, learning about their food and indigenous culture.
20. Climb Machu Pichu – JW
21. Go on a weekend shopping spree in NYC – JW 1 year anniversary!
22. Take a two week pastry class in France with Wendy. – JW
23. Cook w Paula Deen on the Food Network – JW
24. Create a seminar/speaking event for women where we talk, teach, motivate and challenge them to pick a girlfriend and start fulfilling their dreams – JW
25. Outsell the ad space on our blog. – JW
26. Sign a sponsorship deal with Vitamin Water.

We will keep you posted on our progress, and if you’re keeping tabs, you will see this list grow in the coming weeks.  Our 1001 days end on August 1, 2014.  It may seem like a long time from now, but Wendy and I met 1278 days ago and it would take me weeks, perhaps months, to share all that we have experienced, accomplished, witnessed and survived in that time.  Time is precious… what will you do with yours?

Thanksgiving, part 1

2 Nov

I’ve been thinking about all the Thanksgivings of my past, and how they’re all so different!  Some have been full of family, football, women in the kitchen and lots of kid’s tables and others have been spent on beaches, with pool boys bringing drinks and gorgeous dinners served to me.  I’ve also taken my kids to explore for this holiday break, one of my favorites was a trip that my oldest son and I took to NYC years ago… we did the Macy’s Parade, Phantom of the Opera, FAO Schwartz, etc… and it began his love affair with this great city.

This year I’ll be spending the holiday with friends, my older sister, niece & nephew.  We will be sharing family recipes, making memories and relaxing together for a few much needed days off.  I’m road-tripping through the west, putting my feet in the sand in SoCal and playing in the desert of Nevada.  A week of calm and quiet, good food and people I love… which will prepare me for Christmas, which is an entirely different post that you will get in a few weeks.  🙂

We want to know how you’re spending YOUR Thanksgiving… what traditions you enjoy, if you travel or everyone comes to you, and the burning question… when do you put up your Christmas tree?  We’re open to debate over the turkey as well… fried or baked?  I’ll just say this about that… I’m from a family that fries everything but their children but I like mine wrapped in bacon and baked long and slow.  We look forward to your stories, treasures and feedback!

Food is love! ~ JB

Wonderful Women doing Wonderful Things…

1 Nov

We love a good story about wonderful women doing wonderful things and The Caramel Jar is just one of those stories. Not only is this story inspiring from a motivational standpoint, but it might be a great gift idea for Christmas. Find your joy…put it in a jar…and make others happy every day…

Enjoy the sweetness of life!

Big Hug…W

Spinach Salad with Fresh Strawberries and Bacon… #ItsWhatsForDinner

30 Oct

This is a wonderful fallback salad when you are not sure what to have for dinner. I used organic spinach leaves, freshly cooked bacon and sliced strawberries. The finishing touch was a drizzle of Basil Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. So yummy with the salty and sweet flavors and gone in seconds. I did have to share a few times with the hubby, but I didn’t mind too much. Anytime I can get him to eat something other than a burger, I have won the battle!

Food is Love…Big Hug…W