Brown Sugar Rosemary Hazelnut Brittle

Since Labor Day I feel like I am not only in a race to use up the herbs in my garden, to use them to create interesting new treats.

This candy was inspired by the surprisingly delicious Chocolate Mixed-Herb Caramels I made last month. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it looks like using herbs in homemade candy just might be my new addiction. 

Making brittle is nothing new, especially on this blog. However, I really like this special combination of flavors. The heavier flavor of the brown sugar wrapped around raw hazelnut chunks are set off by the herby pine-like flavor of chopped fresh rosemary. It’s powerful. A little piece goes a long way.
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Whole Wheat Strawberry Basil Muffins

These are good. These are serve to two college friends you haven’t seen in a very long time good. Last weekend, on Saturday I was busy the entire day prepping for a 12 hour photo/video shoot on Monday. Sunday guests were coming. Oh dear.

The night before I had no clue of what I could serve and hadn’t done any shopping. I reluctantly settled on a cop out bagel and cream cheese run, planning to make some eggs as well. 

Long time friends deserve something better. When I woke up, after having done most of the prep for the job, my mind was clearer. Strawberry and basil flavors came dancing into my head. I knew I had frozen strawberries and plenty of basil in the herb garden.

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Tarragon French Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream Filling

So of course I waited until the most humid day so far in PA to go on a French Macaron making marathon. Humidity and making macarons do not mix but I had way too many Cinderella egg whites in the fridge that needed to go to the ball.

As a result of the humidity the feet are a bit funky on these. The shells are a bit off as well. Some of them have little evil peaks on their heads. Oh well.

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Orange Thyme Sorbet

Lemon verbena, spearmint, apple mint, orange mint, pineapple mint, lemon thyme, purple basil, box basil, lemon basil, curry, variegated sage, pineapple sage are some of the weirdo herbs that live harmoniously side by side in my garden.  

I thought I was done adding strange leafy things for the season until I saw this orange thyme during a recent breeze through of my local farmers market. I actually backed up a few steps to make sure I had read the label correctly.

 A surreptitious taste test revealed a gorgeous orange thyme flavor. In no time flat it joined all the other little herbal oddities on my terrace. It’s quite happy there with its edgy brethren. Read More »

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Vanilla French Macarons with Honeysuckle Buttercream Filling

Sometimes I think there is a garden genie on our PA property. When we closed on the house in the month of March, I had a long list of what I wanted to plant in the garden. My husband said to just wait and see what would come up first. Wise words. One by one the items I desired got struck off my list as soon as they bloomed or flowered. 

Recently I found myself wishing I had a honeysuckles. Lots of them. Less than a day later I found one in full boogie with big fat bees buzzing around it up on the hill on the side of the house. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to harvesting the blossoms, they had gone. 

Then I spied a picture posted by friends living in Matamoras of their lovely honeysuckle bush in full bloom and immediately begged a cup or two full of flowers.

Consequently, these macarons are brought to you today by the generosity of friends and the awesome power of social media.
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Sage flower Almond Scone Recipe

This sage has come back for the third year in a row in our PA garden but this year was the first time it flowered. 

It looked so pretty in the garden I almost left it alone but eventually broke down, cut about half of them and used them to make these scones and infuse vinegar.

Harvesting the flowers is a bit of a tedious process. You have to pull the individual flowers off of the stem and stamen. The sage flowers are less powerful then the sage leaves so the scones had a more delicate sage flavor than if I had used the leaves.
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Nasturtium Covered Lemon Layer Cake

This was a request to bring a cake for a sit down birthday dinner for 12. The birthday boy is a cake maker. No pressure there. Said birthday boy and I were recently gawking over this book:

This gorgeous book is my latest obsession from which the Tulip Vodka recipe and inspiration for my Lilac Cashew Baklava came. We just couldn’t get over the cover cake.

Since my frosting piping skills are minimal (his are exceptional) I thought I would surprise him with a edible flower covered cake at the party. Easy peasy. No piping.

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Lilac Cashew Baklava

Last year I was all lilac crazy. Once I had figured out how to harvest my lilacs creating sugars and syrups, I went on a lilac baking binge, creating recipes like Lilac Ginger Ale, Lilac French Macarons, Lilac Blueberry Scones and Chocolate Truffles.

Even though it was a bit exciting last weekend to have four different varieties of lilacs blooming on on our PA property at once, this year I was a bit more calm about the whole thing. 

I harvested the sweetest smelling ones to make sugar, simple syrup and infused gin with lilacs. I also and spread some out on an extra large paper lined baking sheet to dry.

Recently I was thinking how I hadn’t made baklava in years and was looking for a good flavor idea as an excuse to bring on the filo dough. 
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Tequila Cilantro Pepita Pesto Salsa for Cinco de Mayo

In honor of Cindo de Mayo, let’s take a crack at revamping salsa, shall we?

Recently, I was handed about 20 pounds of tomatoes at work. They were left over props from a fashion photo shoot.  After giving two big bags away and making a huge pot of tomato sauce, many more were still lurking in every corner of my fridge.

This unique salsa is created in two steps, I first created a cilantro pepita pesto then a tequila salsa. Mix them together and you have Cinco de Mayo Appetizer Magic! 

Ay caramba is this good. The cilantro pesto is terrific by itself and mixed together with the salsa, this is one fun fiesta in a bowl.  Andele!

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Tell Mom How You Feel With Mother’s Day Message Cookies

Sometimes I get weary trolling aisles of various stores for baking supplies. Then there is the occasional score which makes it all worth it.

Recent I found this Williams-Sonoma cookie lettering set at TJ Maxx for $4.99. I have one similar much smaller rectangle shaped cutter back in Germany I’ve used before for a Karneval party.  Compared to that cutter, for which I paid about 15 Euros, this was a great find.

This set contains three large plunger style shapes (heart, star and rectangle) and the letters. Inserting the letters with this set was much easier than my other one. The best part is, included are entire words to save you time searching and loading the letters. “Thank You” “Happy” “Birthday” are a few examples. Totally. Love.

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