Magic Cookie Bars~Second Traditional Sweet

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Magic Cookie Bars are a second sweet holiday tradition in our home.    These sensational chocolatey treats have really stood the test of time.  I think I was about 10 years old when my mother made these the first time and we have had them every year since! 

It is hard to beat the flavor that is packed into these pretty bars.  I hope you will make a batch to eat and share this holiday season and stay tuned for one more sweet tradition this week!

Magic Cookie Bars

1 stick butter, melted

8 whole graham crackers

1 ½ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour melted butter into the bottom of a greased 9×13 glass baking dish.  Crush graham crackers into a fine powder.  Sprinkle crumbs evenly over butter.  Sprinkle first a layer of walnuts, then chocolate and last coconut.  Drizzle milk evenly over coconut.  Bake for 18-22 minutes until coconut is lightly browned.  Let cool before slicing to serve.

Christmas Tree Cookies~A Fangio Tradition

Christmas Tree Cookies

Christmas Tree Cookies are a tradition in the Fangio home!  Ever since my children we scooting around the house in footed PJ’s we’ve been making these delicious cookies.  Buttery, soft, and melt in your mouth goodness is only the beginning.  I simply adore the fact that they look so homespun.  Sure, these days we could break out the royal frosting and fancy tips and go for a instagram able moment but it would just not be the same.

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One year we even turned our Christmas Tree Cookies into a cookie garland and hung it around the door.

Cookie Garland Brandon

When guests left the house we cut the cookies apart for a little to-go treat.  The kids’ and little Brandon LOVED it!

Make a batch of Christmas Tree Cookies with someone you adore TODAY! You will be so glad you did and stay tuned all week!  I will be sending some of our favorite sweet recipes perfect for taking, sharing or just plain munching!

Christmas Tree Cookies

2 cups butter

3 cups powdered sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

5 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time until both are incorporated. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix well.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and add slowly mixing to incorporate.  To make rolling faster and easier, separate dough into 2 large zip lock bags.  Press dough flat into the bags.  Chill dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bags off of chilled dough.  Roll and cut on floured surface.  Bake cookies on greased cookie sheets 7-11 minutes.

Buttercream Frosting

1½ sticks butter at room temperature

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

Milk or heavy cream

Green and yellow food coloring

Using an electric mixer, combine butter, sugar, extracts and several teaspoons of milk on low speed; continue to add milk as needed to get the proper consistency for spreading.  Beat on high speed for 5-7 minutes to create a fluffy frosting.  Do not leave the mixer unattended.  Color ½ cup frosting bright yellow and color the remainder bright green.  Spread the green frosting onto the Christmas trees.  Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe a star at the top of each cookie.

 

 

 

Brie with Buttered Pecan Cherry Compote- Appetizer 3

 

Cherry pecan compote over brie

When it’s appetizer time, nothing satisfies like brie served with a decadent topping.  My Brie with Buttered Pecans and Cherries is hard to beat.  The tart fruit and warm pecans complement the creamy texture of brie perfectly.

Serve this tasty bite with apple, French bread or crackers for a happy crowd!

Stay tuned next week when I will be sharing some of my favorite sweet bites to enjoy with your friends and families.

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Brie with Buttered Pecan Cherry Compote 

1 brie wedge

2 tablespoons butter

¾ cup chopped pecans

¾ cup dried cherries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Brown the pecans in the butter for about 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and simmer slowly until mixture is thick.  Pour warm compote over room temperature cheese and serve.

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Tomato Basil Tartlet- Appetizer 2

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Tomato, basil and cheese is without a doubt my favorite flavor profile.  I have developed many recipes over the years using this trio of ingredients and these Tomato Basil Tartlets are among the best.

This precious 3 bite appetizer is simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.   Enjoy and stay tuned for one more sensational appetizer this week!

Tomato Basil Tartlets

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 cup Gruyere cheese

¼ cup fresh basil cut in a chiffonade

2-3 Roma tomatoes cut in slices

½ teaspoon fresh thyme

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut tomatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Lay tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.  Roll out puff pastry to eliminate creases.  Using a biscuit cutter cut 12 rounds from the sheet.   Place rounds on greased baking sheet.  Mix the cheese, basil and thyme together in a small bowl.  Put a pinch on each pastry round.  Top with tomato, salt and pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until tarts are puffed and beginning to brown.

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Apple Crostini- Appetizer 1

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It is appetizer season!  Chances are you have been asked to bring an appetizer to at least one holiday party this year.  I would like to share 3 of my favorites with you this week, today, Apple Crostini.

Apple Crostini is my current appetizer crush, when I make theses I cannot stop eating them!  NO need to feel guilty since the cracker is an apple slice!

This is a recipe I developed for Dinner Party 2018 hosted by Lauren Palmer at TAOLB and Marcie and Tracy of Unique Unique Designs and myself. These beautiful photos were taken by Jet Pack Creative, thank you!!

Enjoy and stay tuned for more yummy appetizers later this week!

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Apples Crostini

2-3 large red, sweet apples such as Ambrosia or Fuji

½ lemon

4 ounces goat cheese

½ cup pistachios, roasted and chopped

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ teaspoon cinnamon plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup plus more for drizzling

Slice apples crosswise, very thin creating apple crackers.  Ambrosia and Fuji apples will not turn brown after they are cut but just to insure, rub each apple slice with lemon half.  In a small bowl combine goat cheese, cranberries, pistachios, reserve 1 teaspoon for garnish, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon syrup and mix well.  Place a scant teaspoon of the mixture on each apple cracker and spread slightly.  Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon, pistachios and a few drops of syrup.

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Thanksgiving Favorites for my Crew!

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Thanksgiving is finally here and the holiday season has officially begun!  I thought I would share my family’s favorite side dishes that I will be preparing this year for our Thanksgiving table.

The turkey is always the star of the show; for information on roasting the perfect turkey see my instructions at The Art of Living Beautifully, and thanks Lauren Palmer for this beautiful photo!

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Brandon wants Fontina Mac and Cheese~

1 pound Cavatappi pasta

1 ½ cups heavy cream

3 cups whole milk

1 tablespoons flour

2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.  Cook pasta in salted water to just al dente.  Whisk seasoning and flour into cream and milk.  Add half of the cheese to the milk mixture.  Place cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and pour milk mixture over pasta, stir to combine well.  Sprinkle top of dish with remaining cheese.  Bake 25 minutes, if top is getting too brown tent lightly with foil.  Allow dish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Brooke wants Homemade Green Bean Casserole~

1 pound of fresh or frozen green beans thawed

1 can fried onions

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup finely minced mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large saucepan, melt butter, add the mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Warm the milk and stock together in the microwave for 2 minutes, add salt, pepper and liquid and whisk well.  Cook sauce until it thickens, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add ½ of the fried onions and all of the green beans.  Toss well.  Pour mixture into a casserole dish, top with remaining onions and cook for 20-25 minutes until casserole is bubbling.

Mark wants Browned Butter Sweet Potatoes with Caramel and Pecans~

4 pounds sweet potatoes

½ stick butter

½ cup cream

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt to taste

Bake sweet potatoes in the oven set to 400 degrees until they are fork tender.  Let potatoes cool completely before removing them from their jackets.  In small chefs pan heat butter until melted, continue to cook over medium heat until it begins to brown.  Once brown, pour butter into a dish, if it stays too warm the butter can blacken and get bitter.  Meanwhile, mash potatoes with cream, sugar and cinnamon.  Add butter and mix well.  Salt the potatoes to taste before topping with Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce with Pecans

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

1½ cups chopped pecans

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat until it is amber in color and sugar is melted.  Do not stir pan, tip and swirl to help the sugar melt.  Whisk in butter and stir until combined.  Remove from heat wait 5-10 second before adding bourbon and cream.  Mixture will foam up but just keep stirring.  If mixture has lumps in it, continue to stir over low heat until they melt. Once smooth add pecans.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours, I hope it is wonderful!

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Wine~Another GIVEAWAY

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I love telling you about the treasures in our town of McKinney and Andy Doyle of McKinney Wine Merchant is definitely one of these.

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His vast knowledge of wine, winemakers and wine pairing will astound you!

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Andy brought the wine to the table for the recent Dinner Party 2018, Flavors from a Provencal Market, hosted by Lauren Palmer at The Art of Living Beautifully and Styled by Marcie Henehan and Traci Miller of Unique Unique Designs, with me as the chef!

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I was so enamored with the wine Andy chose for the main course; I wanted to share it with YOU and giveaway a bottle to one lucky subscriber.

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Silver Ghost is a $35.00 bottle, a California Cab that drinks like a $60.00 bottle.  It’s smooth and rich and for red wine lovers it pairs nicely with white meat. The name Silver Ghost pays homage to the wine producing families association with the Rolls Royce Company.

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Swing by McKinney Wine Merchant for all of wine requirements this busy holiday season; you can even call ahead for curbside pickup!

120 W Virginia St, McKinney, TX 75069 (972) 542-4636

GIVEAWAY

I am very excited to tell you that I am giving away 1 bottle of Silver Ghost! To enter, head over to Instagram @atasteofparis for all of the details and I hope YOU win!

To double your odds, write your friends name in the comment section of this post, share the post with them, if they subscribe to A Taste of Paris, you will both be entered TWICE!

GOOD LUCK!

Photos of the Dinner Party were taken and shared by Jettpack Creative
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Pumpkin Madeleines

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The most requested flavor of fall is without a doubt pumpkin.  I thought I would get into the act by creating a recipe for my favorite little cakes, so I present, Pumpkin Madeleines! Packed full of crave-able pumpkin and fall spices, these moist little cakes will not disappoint.  Grab a few Madeleine pans and make these for your family, they will be so glad you did!

The truth is I am not sure if I like my new leopard booties or Pumpkin Madeleines better, it’s a toss-up.  If you need a pair to spice up your wardrobe, click the link below!

ENJOY!!

Pumpkin Madeleines

¾ cup butter

3 eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¾ cup powdered sugar

1¾ cup flour

2 teaspoon vanilla

¾ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped

More butter and flour for preparing pans

Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Grease Madeleine pan generously with butter and dust with flour.  Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer.  Add pumpkin, vanilla and eggs one at a time.  Mix all spices and salt with flour in a bowl and slowly add it to the butter mixture until it is all incorporated.  Stir in nuts by hand. Place the batter into a pastry bag.  Pipe Madeleine tins most of the way full with batter.  Bake for about 16 minutes until edges are beginning to brown.  Flip pan to release cakes and prepare pan again for baking the last batch.  Cover tightly as soon as cakes cool and freeze any portion that will not be eaten the same day.

 

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Autumn in Provence~Olives

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For my last look at autumn in Provence I want to share picture of gorgeous colorful olives in the markets.

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Workers scoop large spoonfuls of olives into bags to be enjoyed by their customers.

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I am not an olive eater per say, but the olives in France taste amazing and once I start, stopping is difficult!! The olives are not pitted, making eating them a bit inconvenient but the flavor and meatiness is well worth the effort!

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There is much variety in the brining liquid and herbs used to finish the olives, a flavor for everyone.

Olive tapenade and bread is often served on the tables of  Provencal restaurants when you sit down, think salsa at a mexican restaurants. Below you will find my Green Olive Tapenade recipe, enjoy!

Green Olive Tapenade

1 ½ cups Spanish olives, pitted and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon each lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons or more olive oil

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is chunky.  Serve with French bread.

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Autumn in Provence~The Land of Lavender

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Beautiful lavender fields abound in Provence.

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By the time we arrived in September, the lavender had already been harvested for the year.  Lavender is a fragrant bushy shrub that reaches the peak of its growing cycle in late summer. This is a small lavender field depicts the recent harvest.

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Lavender is prized for its essential oils that have many medicinal properties.  It is said to have a tranquilizing effect making sleep easier as well as an antiseptic used for insect bites and treating wounds.

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Visiting the distillery was interesting.  Steam is used to extract the prized essential oils from the blooms and stems of the plant.

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Once extracted the oils are kept in plastic vats and shipped all over the world.

Lavender can be used in our food too, like in my recently published Goat Cheese Truffles or the Lavender Vanilla Scones that are sure to please!

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Lavender Vanilla Scones

3 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed

1 cup chilled buttermilk

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon edible lavender plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.  Mix extracts and vanilla seeds and lavender into the buttermilk.   Pour buttermilk into food processor and pulse until dough is formed.  Gather the dough into a ball and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead it gently not more than a dozen times.  Cut the dough in half.   Roll ½ of the dough into a circle ½ inch thick. Slice the circle like a pizza creating triangles.  Repeat with second half of dough.  Place triangles on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around edges.  Frost scones with glaze and garnish with lavender sprinkle if desired.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon vanilla

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Pinch of salt

Cream

Add all ingredients in a bowl except cream; add cream slowly until desired consistency is formed.  Drizzle tops of baked scones with glaze.

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