The tradition of cutting down an evergreen, placing it in a stand, lighting it up and garnishing it with ornaments began in the early 1600s. The evergreen symbolized life when every other tree had shed its leaves -- the evergreen remained green and lush. The very first holiday lights were candles, and they often symbolized loved ones, friends and family. Many of these first trees were decorated with fresh garlands of berries and baked cookies. Electricity introduced the first electrified strings of lights, and homemade ornaments of fruits and cookies were replaced with glass balls and molded plastic figurines. Many of these ornaments have been lovingly collected over the years, with each having a special meaning of a specific place or time in our lives.
The craft beer movement has been part of my life for more than 15 years. In my early 20's, I vividly remember consuming some of the most delicious microbrews in the Pacific Northwest, along with fresh salmon and some of the most delicious sushi I've had in my life. As life moved on, and the scenery changed from evergreens and fresh fish to wide open spaces and corn fields, our love of microbrews and craft beers evolved. The craft breweries were not as prevalent in the Midwest as they were in the Pacific Northwest, so we resorted to creating our own. A sudden move to sunny San Diego once again put us in the center of brewing innovation. Places like Stone and Firehouse Brewing changed our views on bold and unique brews.
Food allergies are on the rise in the general public, and peanuts, dairy and gluten are the top offenders. In order to stay competitive and offer consumers a product they can consume without worry, many chefs are offering dishes that are free of peanuts, dairy and gluten.
As a working pastry chef, I have tested and offered these products in many of the businesses I have worked in. A few of my favorites include red velvet cupcakes, chocolate flourless cake (to die for) and my go-to 10 minute recipe of gluten-free rice crispy treats with callebaut chocolate.
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (S'mores Part 1)
Part one? This week I would like to do a recipe for homemade s'mores in two parts, so be sure to check back on Thursday for the graham cracker recipe.
Living in beautiful West Michigan has its perks. Great lakes surround us, beautiful scenery abounds, wonderful communities of friendly neighbors and four seasons. Spring, summer, fall and winter -- that time of year when no one can go to the lake, the cabin, or the beach. Summer is a time for Michiganders to soak up the sun in preparation for winter hibernation. Labor Day weekend is usually the last weekend when we are able to go to the lake, the cabin or the beach house. In celebration of these last days of summer I am presenting you with a quintessential summer camping recipe, s'mores!
Fall is just around the corner! I've missed fall, the changing leaves, crisp air, cider and donuts and, of course, fresh picked apples. I remember as a child picking apples right off the trees at a local orchard. They were crisp with just the right combination of tart and sweet.
I contemplated waiting to post this recipe until after labor day, when fall officially starts, but those beautiful apples in the fridge kept calling to me; begging to be made into a crisp, strudel or pie. I begrudgingly, but happily, gave in and pulled them from the fridge. What can I make that is easy, tastes delicious, and strays slightly from the traditional? Almond-Vanilla Apple Tarts! Simple, elegant and oh-so-delicious!!
We recently moved back to the Midwest from sunny Southern California. Although I miss the ocean and mountains, I am thrilled to be closer to family! One of the benefits of being so close to family is the ability to "stop" by and raid my father's garden.
Looking for inspiration for a breakfast pastry, I gathered up my camera and the kids, and drove up to his house. I was very pleasantly surprised by the abundance of tomatoes, but tomato muffins did not sound appealing to any of us, so we continued our hunt. Beneath large green leaves I spied a very large zucchini, and then a second one. Perfect! Zucchini bread it is! The moisture from the zucchini keeps the bread moist for days, and even after it has gone past its prime I have been known to make french toast out of the leftovers. But that's another post...
There are two major reasons we love to work with Rachel from www.rachelcooks.com. First, her recipes are crazy! Seriously, who would have thought of Orange Creamsicle Buttercream made with Vanilla Beans? Second, she's from Michigan. We always enjoy the opportunity to work with our "neighbors", especially when vanilla is involved.