Berry Napoleons

This dessert is so easy to make, yet super delicious.  It is a great dessert for a party due to the ability to make the components ahead of time and assemble it right before you are ready to serve it.  I found the idea for this great recipe here and adapted it to serve 12.

Berry Napoleons

2 boxes puff pastry
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 pint of strawberries, quartered
1 pint of blueberries
1 pint of blackberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
whipped cream
1 jar lemon curd
Powdered sugar for dusting

Thaw and cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 squares.  Mix egg and water and brush onto squares.  Bake according to package directions.  Split each square in half.

In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries with brown sugar and allow to form juice.  (You will need to do this a few hours before preparing the dessert.)

To prepare the Napoleons--Put a small amount of lemon curd on the plate (this will keep the Napoleon from sliding around) and place half of the pastry on top.  Spread lemon curd on the pastry and then a small amount teaspoon of the whipping cream.  Spoon a small amount of the berries in juice over the whipped cream.  Top with a piece of pastry and repeat each step twice.  Top last piece of pastry with berries, whipped cream, and powdered sugar.


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Rosemary Dijon Pork Loin

I served a simple and delicious pork loin this past weekend at a Garden Party that I hosted.  The end result was flavorful, moist, and tender.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Rosemary Dijon Pork Loin
(adapted from George Stella on Food Network)

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

Mix mustard, onion, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.  Rub mixture on pork loin.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pork loin in oven and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes (until thickest part reaches 145 degrees).  Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve.


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Lark's Country Heart

Gorgonzola-Grilled Pear Crostini

I found this recipe in the June issue of Southern Living magazine and thought that it would be a great addition to the menu of my garden party that I hosted this past weekend.  There is just something about sweet fruit with creamy, salty cheese.  Yum!!!  It definitely was a hit.

Gorgonzola-Grilled Pear Crostini

3 firm ripe Bartlett pears, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices and toasted
olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped, lightly salted roasted pecans
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup honey

Preheat grill to 350 degrees and grill pear wedges until golden.  Stir together cream cheese and next three ingredients.  Spread 1/2 tablespoon on each baguette slice.  Top with grilled pears.  Sprinkle with pecans and rosemary, and drizzle with honey.


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A Garden Party

This weekend, I had the great honor to host a Garden Party for some of my very sweet, beautiful friends. Everyone was dressed in gorgeous spring/summer attire ready for a few cocktails and dinner.  I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful friends who support me in every way.  You couldn't find a better group--who else would endure wet feet (due to the rain that poured only two hours before) and mosquito attacks (you gotta love Louisiana!!) for the love of food and a garden.  

This Garden Party has become a tradition.  I decided that this year would be even bigger and better than before.  I sent out invitations and prepared cocktails and dinner, pulling out all the stops.

The theme this year was "From the Garden".  I tried to create the menu using fresh herbs and vegetables that are growing in my garden.  I also wanted to highlight  ingredients that are grown in Louisiana.  I used herbs as centerpieces for the tables and created flower arrangements from my garden, all in rustic terra cotta pots.

The party favors were tuscan rosemary plants wrapped in chocolate burlap with chocolate and lime green ribbon.

The table was topped with cream burlap, a few of the rosemary plants, and an assortment of herbs such as purple basil, orange mint, lemon thyme, and bronze fennel.  I used wicker chargers and terra cotta linens.  

I was so fortunate to have two sous-chefs, my daughters--Lauren and Paige, my husband, and friends Jeff, Vicki, and Tanner, who helped make every detail perfect.  

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Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies

My husband has the ultimate sweet-tooth.  He requests cookies often.  I usually make some type of chocolate chip cookie.  My rationale is that I should at least make my favorite while I'm at it.  This time I decided to kick it up a notch and add some rich buttery toffee to the mix.  I also used several different kinds of chocolate chips.  I really like to combine the bittersweet with the milk chocolate to add some complexity to the taste.  I always try to use the best chocolate that I can find.  I think that it makes a huge difference between good and great cookies.

Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Heath bar bits
1 cup Heath bar bits with chocolate
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  In another large bowl, mix melted butter, brown sugar, and sugar.  Add vanilla extract, egg, and egg yolk.  Mix well.  Next, add flour mixture until just blended.  Stir in Heath bar bits and chocolate chips.  Scoop with a 2 tablespoon scoop onto a prepared baking sheet.  Mash cookies down with a spoon.

Bake cookies for 17-20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.  Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


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It's a Keeper

Spaghetti and Meatballs Ala' LouLou

A few years ago, I made a New Year's Resolution to learn how to make really good authentic Italian food.  Tomato sauce was one of the things that I really became good at making, in my (and my husband's) opinion anyway.  I like mine spicy and sweet.  Which is actually a mixture between two different styles of tomato sauce.  Being from Louisiana, though, I think that the spicy is a prerequisite in any type of sauce I make.   I also started making my own pasta at this time.  Homemade pasta takes a little time, but is completely worth the effort.  I usually make ravioli or lasagna noodles, but this time I decided to go the distance and make spaghetti.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Ala' LouLou

For the pasta

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/4 cup water

In a stand mixer, with a dough hook attachment, place flour in the bowl.  Add one egg and mix at the lowest speed.  Once the first egg is incorporated, add additional eggs one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding the next.  Add water and mix well.  The dough will form a ball.  It will be sticky.  Place the dough ball on a floured work surface and cover with an inverted bowl.  Let sit for one hour.   After the hour has passed, cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Place a flat pasta roller on the first setting and roll the first piece of pasta through the roller.  Fold the pasta in half and run it through the first setting several times, folding after each.  Change the settings to the second and third in order and run the pasta through each one.  After each piece has been run through the roller, change the roller to the spaghetti cutter and run each piece through.  Place the spaghetti onto pasta drying racks.  Allow the spaghetti to dry if your are not using it immediately.

For the meatballs

6 ounces of center-cut bacon (about 6 slices), diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated onions
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon marjoram
2 tablespoons dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon jalapeno, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 pounds ground beef (10% fat)

Place bacon in a food processor.  

Grind to a coarse paste.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add the next 11 ingredients.

Add meat and mix with your hands.

Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop meat into balls and roll with your hands.  Place meatballs on a baking sheet.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill.  (You can make these meatballs 1 day ahead.)

For the sauce

6 ounces center-cut bacon (about 6 slices), diced
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons roasted garlic, diced
2 cups grated onion
1 tablespoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon oregano
1/3 cup brown sugar

In a large pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; transfer to a plate.  Add oil to the drippings in the pot.  Place meatballs, in batches, into the pot and cook until brown on all sides.

Transfer meatballs to a baking sheet and set aside.

Add onions and crushed red pepper to the pot and saute until golden brown, about 6 minutes.  Add wine and reduce by half.  Stir to remove the brown bits from bottom of pot.  Meanwhile, puree tomatoes in juice and garlic in a blender, in batches,  and add to the pot.  Add marjoram and oregano.  Boil until sauce thickens.  Mix bacon back into sauce; add brown sugar.  Add meatballs and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until the meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 7 minutes or until al dente.  Drain and add 1 tablespoon of marjoram and 1 tablespoon of oregano to the pasta and toss.  Serve with tomato sauce and meatballs and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.


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Tuesday Night Supper Club