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holiday cookies

November 17, 2017

Holiday cookies cookbook

2017 has been a good year for cookbooks.  There have been a wide variety of new books published.  This selection includes cookbooks by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Zac Posen – as well as cookbooks by famous chefs like Bobby Flay, Wylie Dufresne, Jacques Pepin and Richard Blais.

But, for recipes to use for holiday gifting, I have a favorite cookbook release this year and I would like to share the title with you today on Friday field trip.

holiday baking

The book?  Holiday Cookies:  Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden.  With some intriguing new dessert recipes accompanied by fabulous photos, I am really enamored with this book!  Can you tell why based on the few photos here?!

holiday cookie trees

The holidays are a time when most people succumb to food temptations and I am no different!  For me, it is definitely a new sweet that will do me in! On Thanksgiving it is all about Eileen’s lemon meringue pie…as far as Christmas is concerned?  You never know!

new holiday cookbook

Because baking is my favorite, I add some new recipes to my holiday repertoire each year – adding some new treats to include with my old standbys!  Making something new to gift to others is a special part of my holiday routine.  This year, the new recipes I try are definitely coming out of Nederlanden’s book!

holiday pinwheel cookies

I can’t wait to share my creations with you on future Friday field trips!

Browse through some of this year’s new cookbooks at your local library!   I hope you are inspired to try at least one new dessert recipe this holiday season! ;)

antique cookie cutters

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a fabulous weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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diy basil infused salt gift

November 14, 2017

packaging diy basil infused salt gift

Before the first frost, what do you do with the last of the basil from your garden?  Do you make batches of pesto to freeze?  Have you ever thought about making some basil infused salt?

I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.  The Ritz on Amelia Island has a fabulous selection of infused salts for sale.  Trying some of the salts from their collection, and watching the kitchen staff demonstrate how it is made, inspired me to use my ‘last of the season’ basil to make some of my own infused salt!

basil infused salt holiday gift diy

Basil salt makes the perfect seasoning for a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad when the basil from the garden has long gone…and, when packaged, it makes a great holiday gift as well!

It is super simple to create a basil infused salt!

making infused herbal salt

First, I pulsed ½ cup kosher salt and ½ cup packed basil leaves together in the food processor.  I dried this mixture by spreading it on a baking sheet in a 225-degree oven (tossing it every 15 minutes) for about 40 minutes – until dry.

After letting it cool, I pulsed the mixture one last time to make the salt extra fine.  Of course, you can control the coarseness by the number of pulses used.

salt tube trio diy

For packaging, I used some glass tubes I had purchased for another DIY.  I think three tubes tied together are a great way to package the salt as a gift.  If you try making some other herbed salt flavors, you can even package three different flavors of salt to gift as a trio!  If you would rather use a more conventional container, small Weck jars or glass spice jars would also look super cute!

I hope I have inspired you to use some herbs from your garden to create some infused salt!

homemade gift salt

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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jeni’s ice cream

October 20, 2017

flight of ice cream at Jenis in Columbus

I have eaten a lot of ice cream in my day and I thought I had a couple favorite spots that couldn’t be beat. That is, until my recent trip to Ohio!

I found the ice cream by which all other ice creams should be measured! This super flavorful and perfectly textured dessert is sold at Jeni’s scoop shops throughout Ohio (and select other states). OMG. It is truly amazing!

Jeni's scoop shop in Columbus, Ohio

I was visiting the motherland…all Jeni’s ice creams are handcrafted in the production kitchen in Columbus, Ohio. Talking to locals about the ice cream, we actually even found someone who planned their wedding colors around a Jeni’s ice cream flavor! (If you are curious, that flavor was brambleberry crisp.)

What flavors did I try? On my visits to Jeni’s while in Columbus, I ordered a ‘flight’ of half scoops – 3 half scoops served in a dish. This way I could try 3 different flavors per visit.

On one of my two trips to Jeni’s while in Ohio, cream puff was my favorite flavor of the three!

close up Jenis ice cream German village

Cream puff is a salty-sweet custard vanilla reminiscent of the filling inside old world cream puffs. Jeni was inspired by the massive cream puffs served in the 100 year old Ohio restaurant, Schmidts when she created this yummy flavor!

flight of ice cream at Jenis

My second flavor choice was salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks. This is the perfect flavor for anyone that loves peanut butter and chocolate together. Originally named ‘The Buckeye State,’ this regular flavor is made with salted ground roasted peanuts and rich chopped dark chocolate.

My third flavor choice was brown butter almond brittle. Made with a sticky almond toffee candy crushed into butter cream ice-cream, this flavor is inspired by Krokan – a Norwegian toffee-like treat.

finishing a flight of ice cream at Jenis

In flight number 2, on my second visit to Jeni’s, the sweet cream biscuits and peach jam was my favorite flavor! Buttermilk ice-cream, crumbled shortcake biscuits and swirls of sweet-tart jam made from Georgia peaches made this flavor over-the-top delicious!

I also tried wild berry lavender – a berry flavor of pulverized black currants scented with sweet orange and lavender essential oils. Because of my love for lavender, I found this flavor very unique and tasty!

wildberry lavendar ice cream at Jenis Ohio

Lastly, I tried sun-popped corn. This flavor is made with organic popcorn kernels popped by the sun in kettles in the New York Hudson Valley. It truly tastes like a bowl of freshly popped popcorn!

Jeni’s is consistently adding new flavors – both temporary and standards, so there are always interesting flavors to try – like sweet potato éclair or super moon (blue violet and vanilla marshmallow swirled together)!

standard flavor at Jenis

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams was founded in 2002 by Jeni Britton Bauer using whole ingredients with dairy from grass pastured cows and no synthetic flavorings or dyes. Jeni is a James Beard Award-winning author of two cookbooks and her New York Times best-seller Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has been dubbed the “homemade-ice-cream making Bible” by the Wall Street Journal with more than 100,000 copies in print!

sample spoons at Jenis ice cream in Ohio

Used sample tasting spoons at Jeni’s scoop shop in Columbus, Ohio

Guess what? If your mouth is watering and you wish you could try Jeni’s ice cream – you can! Jeni’s is available online as well as in select markets! If you don’t have a shop near you, I strongly recommend you order some at least once in your life – especially if you are an ice cream lover!

on Jenis scoop shop wall in Columbus

Thanks for stopping by! I hope I have inspired you to make or try a new flavor of ice cream!

Have a wonderful weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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pumpkin tower in columbus

September 22, 2017

closeup pumpkin tower

Even though the temperatures here in Connecticut this weekend will feel more like summer, it is now officially fall!

pumpkins and squash

Because it seems so appropriate, for today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing some photos of the pumpkin ‘tower’ at this year’s Country Living Fair in Columbus.

pumpkin tower in ohio

Don’t worry…that’s not it on the fair…I will be sharing some fun finds from the Country Living Fair next week!

pumpkins at country living fair

Thanks for stopping by!  Enjoy your first weekend of fall!  I have already bought plenty of white pumpkins and I am working on some neutral velvet and cashmere handmade pumpkins!

close up pumpkins

I hope you are inspired to put out some fall décor!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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katalina’s in columbus

September 19, 2017

Table at Katalinas in Columbus

I have some fun things to share with you from a recent trip to Ohio…my first ever!

Part of visiting someplace new is checking out the food scene and my visit to Columbus was nothing unusual in this respect!  My first Ohio share is one of my eating adventures.

The best way to find the best eating in town?  Talk to a local, of course!  After receiving a glowing endorsement from an Ohio State student, my friend and I decided Katalina’s was a must-see and we headed over to try it out on a bright Sunday morning.

pancake bites at Katalinas in Columbus

Located in an adorable Columbus neighborhood, this fun and colorful, tiny café is located in a renovated 100-year-old gas station and on this particular morning (like every morning?) had a line of regulars out the door!  Not to be discouraged by the line, we reviewed the menu to make the tough decision of what to order.  The choices were very innovative and seemed to have a Latin flavor – all made from scratch.

pancake bite specialty in Columbus

Since Katalina’s boasts of creating pancake balls, I was intrigued and ordered them.  But then, I saw their version of avocado toast with toasted pepitas listed as a special.  I just had to have some!  So, I added that as well as a cup of bottomless coffee to finished out my order.

We were able to snag an outdoor table when our food was ready.  The pancake balls – over a million have already been made – were very yummy!  Made with stone ground flour, they were filled with organic pumpkin apple butter and served with bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.

water at Katalinas

Of course, I ordered way too much food by getting both the pancake balls and the toast, but I was glad I tried both…they were each super tasty!

avacado toast at Katalinas in Columbus

I am so happy we listened to the recommendation of our new friend from OSU and I would do the same for anyone visiting Columbus!

katalina columbus ohio

I hope my brunch adventure has inspired you to try a new eating spot! :)

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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picking asian pears

September 15, 2017

asian pears close up on tree

What is better than getting fresh fruit at a Farmer’s Market?  Getting fresh fruit from a farm, of course!  Today, for Friday field trip you are joining me as I pick some Asian pears!

asian pears on the tree

Have you tasted an Asian pear?  They are delicious!  With a texture similar to apples, the light sweetness and crispy texture (maintained long after they are picked) of this pear make it a really great addition to salads.

asian pear taking a bite

Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years.  The most common grown in the U.S. are Japanese varieties which have a shape similar to an apple.

asian pear close up

The first documented appearance of an Asian pear in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chinese sand pear was imported to Flushing, New York.

asian pear top of tree

Today Asian pears are grown not only throughout Asia but in Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Chile and New Zealand as well. In the United States, the bulk of commercial production comes from California and Oregon with a smaller supply coming out of Washington State, Kentucky and Alabama.

asian pear bunch on tree

We are so lucky to have some Asian pears growing here in Connecticut and people come from far away to pick them!

If you haven’t ever tried an Asian pear, I hope I have inspired you to do so!  Sliced on a green salad and garnished with a fig vinaigrette…yum!

asian pear field

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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lunch al fresco

September 12, 2017

Table at Terrain

Sadly, the days are getting shorter.  Soon, eating al fresco will be a memory.

As a homage to this year’s outdoor eating, I am sharing a few photos from a lunch at The Garden Café at Terrain in Connecticut – a farm to table inspired restaurant using local ingredients – outdoor eating at its best!

Terrain’s trademark bread service – in a clay pot…

Bread and Butter at Terrain

I always enjoy a variation on a traditional deviled egg.  This one is filled with a roasted red pepper mousse and garnished with crispy prosciutto.

Deviled eggs at Terrain

Salad is a standard at lunch for me.  This kale one is served with a yummy brown butter dressing.

Kale salad at Terrain

Browned butter salad dressing at Terrain

Whether it be in your backyard or at a restaurant, I hope I have inspired you to enjoy a meal outdoors – while you still can!

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

For all those suffering from Hurricane Irma – my prayers are with you.

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eclipse cookies

August 18, 2017

gifting eclipse cookies pleasure in simple things blog

I picked up a pair of glasses from my local library so I can watch the eclipse on Monday afternoon safely.  But, after all the hype, is that it?  Glance up to the sky wearing a pair of paper glasses?   I feel like there should be more!

How about a special snack?  For today’s Friday field trip, I am sharing my eclipse snack idea…black and white cookies!  Isn’t a classic New York black and white the perfect eclipse snack?  I thought so!

eclipse cookies from pleasure in simple things blog

I searched online for a recipe for the classic cookie and found many – I decided to go with a Gourmet Magazine recipe from February 2002.

Making the cookies makes the eclipse seem a little bit more like a celebration!  Because, after all, don’t all good celebrations include good food?

eclipse tags pleasure in simple things blog

My very first batch ever of black and white cookies was pretty successful!  (My only advice is to avoid getting crumbs in the white frosting!)  You still have time to make your own eclipse viewing snack!  If not a black and white, how about making some whoopie pies?

cookie tray eclipse cookies

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things!

Whoopie pies in 2024!  Happy eclipse viewing, Jackie

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4 ways to enjoy lavender in the kitchen

August 8, 2017

butter cookies with lavender and lavender glaze

I love the floral note lavender adds to desserts – part of the reason why my ‘must have’ summer ice-cream flavor is lavender fig made at a nearby ice-cream shop!

I recently used a culinary grade lavender (I wouldn’t use it from the garden since I’d be worried about contaminants!)  to experiment a little bit in the kitchen.

Here are a few ways I came up with to use it…I hope to inspire you to come up with some of your own creations!

Lavender Iced Butter Cookies.  I added a tablespoon of dried lavender and 2 drops of lavender essential oil to a standard butter cookie recipe.  After the cookies were baked and cooled, I glazed them with powdered sugar, thinned with milk, and garnished the top of each cookie with dried lavender while the glaze was still wet.  The finished product – butter cookies with that great subtle floral note of lavender!

a butter cookies with lavender

Lavender Butter.  A fabulous butter to use on scones – I just crushed some dried lavender and added it to softened butter.  Great to serve with tea and scones!

Lavender Lemon Bars.  Adding a teaspoon of crushed, dried lavender to the crust of lemon bars, as well as using some as garnish, adds the floral note of the flower to this summer dessert classic!

lemon bars with dried lavender crust

In addition to baked goods, lavender is great in summer beverages.  I played around a little with ingredient quantities and came up with this satisfying lemonade!

Honey Lavender Lemonade Recipe

  • 3 cups cold water
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup dried lavender (make sure it is culinary grade)
  • 1 cup boiling water

Add the dried lavender to the boiling water, cover and let steep at least 15 minutes.  Strain the water to remove the lavender.  Dissolve the honey in the hot water.  Add the cold water and lemon juice to the mixture.  Serve over ice.

honey lavender lemonade recipe by pleasure in simple things

I hope you enjoyed my lavender experiment results!  I’d love to hear how you have added lavender to your summer recipes!  I recently found a recipe for lavender white chocolate ice cream that I may need to give a try before the summer is over!

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

P.S.  Here are some links for other ways I have used lavender!  Enjoy!

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2 ingredient ice pops

August 1, 2017

super easy ice pop recipe

Ice pops are synonymous with summer!  And, what could taste better on a hot, summer day?!  I really love icy treats – evident since I own an ice pop mold, an ice shaver, and an old-fashioned ice cream maker!

Every year, I make many variations of homemade pops, but for today I am sharing a super-fast way to create some with a minimal amount of time and ingredients.  Just two easy ingredients are needed – your favorite yogurt and some baby food!

yogurt mango ice pop recipe

Yes, baby food!  Haven’t you ever bought banana baby food to make banana bread?  Using baby food is an easy way to get some good quality prepared fruit for a recipe without any fruit cleaning or waste!  Plus, you can keep some on hand without it going bad!

baby food for easy mango ice pops

To make 6 pops, I use 3 jars (4.25 oz.) organic baby food (I like Beech-Nut in Just Mango) and 3 (5.3 oz.) containers of yogurt.  Ice pop molds are super easy to come by these days – a quick trip to HomeGoods or Marshalls will fill the bill!  If you don’t want to be bothered with another pan to clutter your cabinets, get small, 3 oz. paper cups and some wooden sticks – these will work just as well!

easy mango yogurt ice pop recipe

I use a plain yogurt because I like the tartness and it mixes well with the mango, but you may want to use vanilla or a favorite flavor that will mix well with mango (or whatever fruit you choose).   For those of you that like extra sweetness – you can add maple syrup or honey to the yogurt before using it in the pop.

super easy 2 ingredient mango ice pops

Just put the yogurt in the molds, alternating it with the fruit, and freeze – that’s it!  The fruit gets so nice and icy!  If you use the cup method, the yogurt is thick enough to keep the sticks standing up straight while the pops freeze.

yogurt and baby food ice pops

I hope you enjoy this super easy ice pop recipe!  Vary the yogurt and baby food flavors to come up with your own favorite combination!  Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things…like enjoying a cold ice pop on a summer day!  xo Jackie


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