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March 31, 2019

Breakfast Hostess Gift | Banana Bread and Honey Butter



It is important for us to be as gracious of a guests as you are when you’re the one hosting the party.   When you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner or a party, it is always appropriate to bring a hostess gift - the obvious choices being flowers and wine.

When I’m hosting a party, while I appreciate these sort of gifts, I’ve already arranged my flowers and have selected wine to serve.  So when I’m the one giving the hostess gift, I like to think about what the host would really appreciate- something she can look forward to enjoying after the party is over. 



Because your host has likely spent a great deal of time and energy preparing for the party, breakfast the next day is probably the last thing from her mind.  Wouldn’t it be so nice for her to wake up tomorrow morning after an evening of entertaining to a special treat waiting for her in the kitchen?  Create a breakfast basket filled with homemade (or home-packaged!) goodies like moist and dense banana bread, creamy whipped honey butter and a special blend of your favorite gourmet coffee beans.

You’ll need:
   
Banana Bread (recipe here)
Butter, softened
Honey
Sea Salt
Ground Coffee Beans
Monogrammed Small Napkin
Berry Basket
parchment paper
Kitchen Twine
kraft coffee bag
Printed Labels
small glass jar with lid

Directions:

Wrap the banana bread in parchment paper, then tie it with kitchen twine or string to secure the ends. 

To make honey butter, place softened butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment.  For every stick of butter, add 3 tablespoons of honey and a pinch of sea salt.  Whip together on high for 3 minutes.  Put the butter in a glass jar fitted with a lid.  Store in the refrigerator. 

Grind coffee and scoop it into a small craft paper bag with a secure folded top.  Add a printed label for a special touch - click here to see my custom printed labels

To package, use a small basket or box lined with a kitchen towel or Monogrammed Linen Napkin (click here to see my favorites from my store).


For more baking inspiration - see my mini Baking Pantry Upgrade.



Also, for all of my resources to the packaging used here, visit my online store.

Products used here :

Monogrammed Small Napkin

Berry Basket
Parchment Paper
Printed Labels

March 30, 2019

Banana Nut Bread with Whipped Honey Butter



I'm not a huge walnut fan... except when they are coated in caramelized goodness or in banana bread.  I am a firm believer in not limiting yourself to the norm- so, I once made this bread with peanuts.  On Mike's morning drive to work he called me (having left the house with a slice to have on the way to work...) :

Mike, 'are there peanuts in this?'
Me, 'Yes.'
Mike, 'In banana bread?  Peanuts in banana bread?'
Me, 'Yes.  I don't like walnuts, I didn't have any pecans, so I used peanuts.'
Mike, 'um... ok.  it's good.  i guess.  just strange to have peanuts in banana bread.  right?'

Here's the recipe with 'nuts' as an ingredient... go ahead, use whatever kind you want!

Loaf Pan & Parchment Paper (and my favorite baking supplies) available here >

Banana Nut Bread
with whipped honey butter

4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped

Peel the bananas.  Mash them roughly with a fork - leaving some chunky pieces for texture.  Place half of them in a KitchenAid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Set aside the other half of the bananas.

Add sugar to the KitchenAid, whip them together for 3 minutes until a frothy mixture forms.  Add butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Add flour, soda, salt, remaining bananas and 1/3 cup of nuts.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Pour into a greased and floured (or sprayed) loaf pan.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour.


Wrap the bread in parchment paper, add a little Whipped Honey Butter and you have a great gift!  Here are the step-by-step directions for creating the Breakfast Basket Gift.


Or... try the muffin version!













For more baking inspiration - see my mini Baking Pantry Upgrade... it will make you want to head to The Container Store!

March 28, 2019

Goat Cheese Stuffed Lemon Chicken & Vegetables | Sheet Pan Supper

 

I love this system for weeknight dinners.  This dinner took me 5 minutes to prepare - I sliced the potatoes and radishes in half, then I put some goat cheese under the skin of the chicken.  I drizzled everything with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt.  It went in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes (except for the asparagus, I actually took it off before baking and put it back in for the last 10 minutes so it didn't get burnt to a crisp).  While it cooked, I cleaned up the cutting board, unloaded the dishwasher, put the groceries away and set the table.  All of this started at 5:30 immediately after we'd gone to the grocery store.  By 6:00 dinner was ready, the kitchen had already been cleaned up (during the 30 min cook time) and Mike walked in the door for dinner.



This isn't the dinner anyone would request for their birthday, and it is definitely on the list of "lighter" dinners I make, but it is very yummy.  Mike LOVED this dinner.  He is always in the market for fresher, healthier, and simpler dinners without so many sauces and seasonings.  The goat cheese cooked under the skin of the chicken is just enough of an indulgence to make it satisfying.  I actually prepared two identical pans (4 chicken breasts) and baked them at the same time so we had enough for lunch leftovers the next day.    

Goat Cheese Stuffed Lemon Chicken & Vegetables on a Sheet Pan

2-4 chicken breasts, bone-in skin on
goat cheese
asparagus*
colorful radishes
small or fingerling potatoes
green onions
olive oil
lemon
sea salt
3 tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line Large Baking Sheets with Parchment Paper ($10),  Place chicken breasts on the pan, place a generous slice of goat cheese underneath the skin of each.  Slice potatoes in half.  Trim asparagus ends.  Slice green onions in half, slice radishes in half.  Arrange all on baking sheet - except asparagus.  I put the asparagus on for the last ten minutes of baking so it doesn't get burnt to a crisp.  Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze lemon and sprinkle salt all over the entire pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Add asparagus and bake all until chicken is 145 degrees.  Remove from oven.  Place another tablespoon of butter on each chicken breast.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.  Pour juices out of pan and pour onto chicken and potatoes on plates.



I love a colorful dinner!  Emma loved these radishes - when roasted they tasted like carrots and obviously the color palette is amazing.


Sorry, closeup photos of raw chicken isn't always the best, but I wanted to show you how easy it is to slide a slice of goat cheese under the skin of a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast.







 Are you interested in more sheet pan dinner ideas?  I love that minimal dishes/pots/pans are required and that cleanup is so simple.  It is also a fun challenge to see what I can come up with on just a sheet pan!

March 26, 2019

School House Garden Plan


I can't help myself but make plans.  The instant we bought The School House, I made big plans in my head for it.  It is so fun to dream.  This is my current vision for the next phase of The School House... that's right, a Barn!

Before we get to that, I'll review what we already have going on on the School House Property.  I planted lots and lots of daffodils last fall, so we're anxious to see them come up in the next few weeks on "daffodil hill" as we've dubbed it.  I also planted about 36 peony tubes last spring.  We had the hottest and driest summer, so I'm not sure how they faired.  Again, I'll be anxious to see if they come up... or not.  We planted a line of lilac bushes along our fence, along with a wisteria I'm hoping will take hold and grow down the line.  We planted 6 Limelight Hydrangea (sun friendly) in the front, and 6 Nantucket Blue Hydrangeas along the side of the school house that faces the gravel road.  Hoping our neighbors love seeing these as they drive by.





Now, to the barn.  It would be a historic looking gambrel style wooden barn with dormers on the top.  This photo is a similar style, but mine would be much smaller!  And maybe just natural wood instead of painted.   There would be big beams inside with a little finished area for projects.  It would house a garden potting area for me and a workshop for Mike along with space to store garden equipment, tractors and supplies.  We love spending time out there so much that we'd love to have a bigger spot to host family and friends for parties and do our gardening projects.



Here are some photos from a little gathering we hosted last fall.  Our favorite thing to do out there is just light a fire and watch the sunset.  


Mike always tending the fire.




Our mini orchard.

The overview at the top gives you an idea what the layout will look like.  We are expanding the garden this year and will add to our "orchard" which only has 2 tiny cherry and 2 tiny peach trees right now... not really sure if that is considered an orchard!  Ha!

We're starting tilling a planting in the garden this weekend, so I thought I'd share our plan.  


Last year, we had 6 - 8x10' garden plots.  These year we are expanding it to 9.  The school house girls will be helping with the garden this year, because I want them to think of it as a community garden.  They'll water and weed a couple of times a week and pick and harvest when everything is ready.  I think it will be such a treat for them to be able spend 20-30 minutes every morning outside in the fresh air and call it "work." 
Of course, so many tomatoes, because those are our favorite, and really the only think I grow in mass to put up.  I wanted to dedicate a lot of space to cutting flowers this year - that is such a fun addition in the garden.  Even when you can't eat another tomato or another cucumber salad, it is always nice to pick big bunches of flowers.  

I do mulch paths between the beds to keep it nice and neat and it keeps it from getting overgrown.  I also love how it looks : )

I'll share more behind the scenes this weekend as we plant the garden and I'll take you along the journey as the season progresses.  Happy Spring Planting!

Easter Bunny Cake | Continuing Granny's Tradition | Coconut Cake





Country Living Magazine recently shared my Bunny Cake on their site.  Granny would've been "tickled pink" - as I'm sure she would've said : )  
.....

We could always depend on what was going to come out of Granny's kitchen - spaghetti and meatballs any day of the week, shrimp dip on Christmas Eve, fried mushrooms during mushroom season, fried donuts on Saturday mornings and the infamous Bunny Cake on Easter.  Easter wasn't Easter without the Bunny Cake.  As I look back on the Bunny Cake, I can remember thinking it was amazing when I was really young.  We were fascinated by anything in the "cake decorating" realm and I loved seeing it come together in person.  

We never really ate the cake - none of the kids liked coconut and my Mom's cream pies piled with meringue tended to distract us.  None-the-less, the Bunny Cake always showed up and we always got a kick out of it.  She presented hers similarly, in a basket with fake green Easter "grass" surrounded by cupcakes topped with jelly beans.  

Granny was better than me - I forgot to only make one 8-inch cake* and bake the rest of the batter as cupcakes... I made two cakes and ended up with two bunnies.  I guess it really is true what they say about bunnies...

*I've added the perfect, deep 8-inch cake pan to my store.  It fits the entire cake mix into this one pan, perfect for 1, plump bunny.

Coconut
Bunny Cake



3 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
...
Parchment Paper ($10 for 100can buy here)
8-inch Cake Pan
...
Cream Cheese Icing
Coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and coconut.  Add it to the butter mixture a little at a time alternating with the milk.  End with adding flour coconut mixture.  Do not over mix.

I line my 8-inch Cake Pan (and cookie sheets, and everything...) with parchment paper that I cut to fit.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes and cupcakes for 15.

See cream cheese icing recipe below.
 
 



I made a base for the cake to sit on by wrapping a piece of cardboard in parchment paper.  You can use wrapping paper, printer paper or foil... whatever you have.





Cream Cheese Icing

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 block of cream cheese, softened
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of milk

Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.  Stir together until creamy - do not whip. 



I put a smear of frosting on the base to help the cake stick.


 

Cut a notch out of the top to form the head.  Use part of the scrap to create a little tail.




Cover the bunny in icing.  You may need to put it in the refrigerator then add a second coat if you like a lot of icing like me.



 Cover the outside with flaked coconut.  I put some of spanish moss around the bunny to give it some natural texture and life.
 

I created the little ears by cutting them out of textured cardstock and painting pink centers with Emma's watercolor paints.  Granny used good ol' fashioned pink construction paper.




I added a little pink nose, too, but kept the bunny blank... I like just the nose and ears.  Too much decor takes away from the simplicity of it.



The Bunny Lives on!   Both of them.

The eggs came from my Mom's friends' farm - I've been saving them just for this.  It will make a great centerpiece for our Easter dinner!




The Easter Collection

Easter is always a welcome celebration in our family.  We've had a welcomed rest after the holidays, usually suffered through a boring winter and are ready to celebrate the emergence of blossoms, blooms and fresh air.  I've compiled my Easter Essentials here - many are actually Everyday Essentials, too, that can be used in many different ways.

Table Setting :

-Basket Centerpiece made using Wet Foam Block
-Terracotta Pot Place cards with Eggs or Bulbs
-Buttercup Blockprint Napkins
-Gingham wrapped gifts

I'll walk you through creating the centerpiece and the place cards later this week!



The Bunny Cake!

One of my post popular posts of all time : ).  Granny would be proud!

I use an 8" Cake Pan + Parchment Paper + Sage Moss to create this entire look.  Details are in this post.



I'm planning an entire post to creating darling Easter Baskets later this week - stay tuned for that.  But in the meantime, here are the supplies I use.

Cello Bags
Ribbons
Tags
Wrapping Paper


Parchment Wrapped (parchment paper's use is endless) Banana Bread tied with Blue Bunny Tag



The Classic Bunny Tag




Speaking of darling Easter Baskets.  These little tiny mice in boxes are just the cutest thing to tuck into an Easter Basket.  We just restocked them!




The softest little bunnies for baskets.  Each year, Emma gets a little bunny tucked into her Easter Basket - these are the sweetest, softest little versions.



Little Lemon Tarts are a great make-ahead dessert for Easter - or any spring party.


 I've added Preserved Green Moss to the store - I use it often to hide dirt in potted plants.



I love these little pots.  I used them here for place cards, filling them with moss and little buds.

For the place card, you can write a name on an egg with a sharpie, or plant a little bulb in it.  Easily tie a ribbon around with a tag for the name.  So sweet for a luncheon or shower favor.


I created this centerpiece using a block of wet floral foam - I've added them to the store!


More DIY details to come!



Watering Can Tablets & Tags


Basket Tablets & Tags


Spring Wrapping Papers Collection








Tessa, from NineandSixteen.com, has long been a source of inspiration for me.  We've gotten to know each other personally over the last 7 years through our blogs.  I'm constantly consulting her for product ideas, travel recommendations and decorating my own home.  Her insights are always spot on - one of those people that knows your own style better than you do!  I asked her to design a wrapping paper for the Holiday Collection with the direction - "What is your dream paper?"  We texted back and forth for about 20 minutes and this design was born.  
**I"ve updated Tessa's paper for spring in another one of her signature colors, a slate grey blue.
4 sheets of wrap packaged in a Kraft Tube.
Each sheet is 36" x 24"







Meadow Linen Napkins












These are lovely for a hostess gift - I often include one wrapped around a loaf of banana bread (in parchment or a cello bag), tied with a ribbon.












I've perked up our hearth room with fresh linens.



Our Pillows come in the following sizes :

22" Large Pillow Covers
20" Medium Pillow Covers
Rectangle Accent Covers


I use Ikea inserts for all of the Cushion Covers in my store.  So, you can invest in the inserts from Ikea (inexpensive!!) once, and then switch out covers from my store each season like I do.


Ikea 26" Insert  ($9.99) for my 22" Pillow Covers

Ikea 20" Insert ($5.99) for my 20" Pillow Covers

Ikea Rectangle 26x16" Insert ($6.99) for my Rectangle Pillow Cover







I'll update later this week with DIY tutorials for the floral arrangements later this week!

Shop the entire Spring & Easter Collection >

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