Millionaire Shortbread for the Office

What’s Going on Today: Negotiating snow-laden New York with a stroller, morning trip to Time Warner Center for a pastry at Bouchon.
Naptime Goals: Make Millionaire Shortbread for husband's office and to give to friends.
Tonight’s Meal: Tomato Soup Florentine with a green salad and cheese toast.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Snow snow go away, being stuck inside does not make our day.

Sometimes my love of baking overtakes me to the point that I have too many sweets in the house. When this happens I tend to pack off a nice big box of cookies and brownies to my husband's office and give several bags of goodies away to my friends. As for my husband, his colleagues love me for it, and I like to think it helps him earn some extra points with the boss. As for my friends, well they love me for it too, although not right before they leave for vacations that require bathing suits. Either way, it's the best way I can think of to move temptation out of my house before I gorge to the point of needing an entirely new wardrobe that is two sizes bigger than my current one.

Lately, I've been hooked on shortbread of all kinds. I've made Silver Palate Shortbread Hearts by the dozen, and when they've run out, I've made more. Then, the other day, I was flipping through my recipe box and found this old recipe of Millionaire Shortbread from my mother. I was immediately smitten, there was no better time to come across a recipe for shortbread with a layer of caramel and chocolate on top. The addition of these flavors were the perfect thing to take my shortbread making straight over the top.

Baking these during my daughter's naptime is a snap. In fact, the baking time is a short 20 minutes since only the shortbread needs to bake. The rest is matter of stirring the caramel and melting the chocolate. What sets this shortbread apart for me is the addition of rice flour to the batter, it creates a more delicate crumbly cookie instead of hard buttery brick. The caramel and chocolate layers are spread very thinly on top of it, setting for 30 minutes before each application, giving the whole bar a very refined appeal.

When I told my husband that I was making these this week he actually asked if he could take them to the office. Of course, I said yes. I do not need an entire 15x10 pan of these all to myself although, though, lord knows, I could polish it off in the matter of hours. After making during the naptime I let them chill overnight and cut them into squares the following morning. Half of the pan was sent to work, another quarter was given to friends and the rest stayed home with me. It's a good thing I portioned it this way, I've already eaten through my entire stash.

Millionaire Shortbread 
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 c. light brown sugar, well packed
1 12oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and coat a 15x10" jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl mix 1 c. of unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, rice flour and granulated sugar with a wooden spoon until well combined and a little crumbly. Press dough in an even thin layer onto jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until edges of shortbread are golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat melt 1/2 c. butter, condensed milk, corn syrup and brown sugar. Stir mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture has thickened and is a deep caramel brown.
4. Pour caramel over freshly baked shortbread and spread it evenly in a thin layer with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula. Place it in the fridge to set for 30 minutes.
5. Then, melt the chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave until it forms a smooth and creamy chocolate sauce.
6. After 30 minutes, remove caramel from the fridge and spread the chocolate over top. Return to fridge to chill for an additional 30 minutes. Then, cut into squares or triangles and serve.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Variations and Ideas: A couple of times I've added sliced almonds on top of the chocolate, as well as finely chopped hazelnuts. Both are a great addition if you want a yummy nutty crunch to accompany your bite of shortbread.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making this takes about 1 hour, including the waiting time. I like to put the shortbread in the oven to bake and then make the caramel while it's baking. Usually it works out perfectly that the shortbread is cooled by the time is caramel is complete and ready to spread on top of it. While the caramel sets in the fridge catch-up on TV, then melt the chocolate chips and spread them on top and return to fridge to finish.
Naptime Reviews: Everyone loves this shortbread because of it's slightly more delicate crunch from the rice flour and nice even layers of caramel and chocolate. They add just the right amount of sweetness without going over the top.


Paninis & White Truffle Potato Chips: Webisode #13

What’s Going on Today: Returned from vacation- unpacking, laundry, errands... quick trip to grocery store for a few staples.
Naptime Goals: Baked White Truffle Potato Chips to serve with dinner tonight. Make grocery list for tomorrow's shopping, finish laundry.
Tonight’s Meal: Paninis with Baked Potato Chips - that's as fancy as I get the first day back from vacation!
Parenting Lesson of the Day: When flying with kids bring cash so you can buy drinks for the poor souls sitting in front of you.

We returned from Florida a couple of days ago with decent tans, happy memories and several loads of laundry. It was sad to leave our fun family vacation, but my daughter was really glad to be home. Upon return she spent hour after hour playing with her toys and getting reacquainted with her stuffed animals. I didn't mind this in the least, it gave me some free time to unpack our bags, shake out the sand and put away our warm weather clothes for another few months.

As you'll see in this webisode, when we got home we also returned to a big fat empty fridge. Of course I expected this since I so diligently cleaned it out before we left. (If you've ever returned home to rotten milk and spoiled cheese in your kitchen you'll know exactly why it is important to clean out the soon-to-expire items before you depart.) In an attempt to control the catch-up chaos I opted to take the easy route and buy a few key food staples to get us through the first few days home, then do a big grocery shopping later. It was during this quick shopping trip that I picked up the makings for baked chips and paninis.

Making sandwiches and chips may seem like a pretty lame meal for our first night home, but I assure you it is not. To me a hot toasted sandwich served with crisp salty chips is comfort food in it's finest form, and this meal fits the bill. Though it is a tad more laborious then buying chips at the store, making these baked chips is simple and the end result is far healthier and more flavorful then anything I've ever eaten out of a bag. In this case I used white truffle oil and a touch of sea salt as my flavor combination of choice, but you could also use pepper, herbs or other flavored oils. Almost anything goes. The flavors of the sandwich are also well-balanced with oozy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and a good spread of my Perfect Pesto - thawed from the freezer - to give it an extra pop of flavor and moisture.

Rest assured, after shooting this I took quite a lengthy trip to the grocery store and had the makings of several more meals delivered straight to our apartment. We will be eating heartier, more involved meals in the weeks to come, but this was the perfect way to give ourselves a big welcome home.

Baked White Truffle Potato Chips
method adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties by Ina Garten
Serves 2
3 large baking potatoes
4 T. olive oil
4 T. white truffle oil
3-4 Pinches Sea Salt

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Pour 2 T. of olive oil on a 18x13 jelly roll pan and spread it all around so the pan is fully coated. Place coated pan in the oven and heat for 10 minutes.
2. Scrub potatoes and slice to 1/16" thick on a mandoline. *If you don't have a mandoline, slice the potato as thinly as possible with a sharp knife.*
3. Line up potato slices on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 T. white truffle oil. Then sprinkle with 1-2 pinches of Sea Salt. Place in the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then, rotate the pan and bake for 5-6 more minutes. At that point, look at the chips, as they get darker flip them with a pair of tongs and bake for 1-2 minutes more. The chips will darken a bit as they bake, just don't let them burn.
4. Remove pan from oven and transfer chips to a layer of paper towels. Allow them to cool and the oil to be absorbed by the towels. They will crisp up slightly as they cool.

Panini with Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Tomato and Pesto
Serves 2
4 Slices good bread
2 T. heaping teaspoons perfect pesto
4-5 slices fresh mozzarella
4 slices fresh tomato
2 slices prosciutto

1. Heat a skillet or panini press and coat lightly with butter or olive oil.
2. To make a sandwich: Swipe one side of bread with pesto, then layer with tomato, prosciutto and mozzarella. Close with second piece of bread. Toast and serve.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Ideas and Variations: The flavor possibilities for this meal are nearly endless. As long as you have some bread on hand you can make almost anything from your fridge into a great toasted sandwich. I've also flavored the chips before with different herbs including rosemary and thyme, as well as garlic oil and red pepper.
Naptime Stopwatch: Slice and baking the chips takes about 30 minutes, assembling and making the paninis takes about 10 minutes at the most.
Naptime Reviews: My husband and I are always game for a sandwich and chips for dinner now and then. For my daughter we omitted the prosciutto and gave her a pesto and mozzarella grilled cheese.


Food is Love 2010: Round-up and Winners

Earlier this month Jennifer at Savor the Thyme and I hosted a fun Valentine's contest called Food is Love. We wanted to see how you show your family and friends love on Valentine's Day with food. We were smitten with all of the wonderful entries you sent in and agonized for hours choosing the winners. Below is a round-up of half of the entries from the contest, you can find the rest over at Jennifer's awesome site. As you'll see, Bonnie, the winner in the Silly/Funny category, is listed below. The remaining two winners and the rest of the contestants are showcased at Savor the Thyme.

Thanks again to all of our entrants. The winners will receive prizes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, easily the best chocolate producer ever. I love their premium chocolate for baking, eating and just about anything!

Winner in the Silly/Funny Category- Bonnie of SweetLifeBakes: Wouldn't you love to wake up to grapefruits like these on Valentine's Day!

Cara of Big Girls, Small Kitchen with Dairy-Free Carrot Cake: How sweet that Cara thoughtfully made a dairy-free carrot cake for boyfriend on this special holiday.

Stacie of ChowMama with Orange and Chocolate Chunk Cookies: These are right up my alley. I've already printed out this recipe and will be baking them soon with my newly arrived crate of fresh citrus from Florida!

Elina of The Naked Beet: Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies, say that three times fast! Then, start baking, these awesomely delicious cookies are bound to impress just about everyone.

ChezUs with Pink Macaroons with Bittersweet Ganache: Making these babies are not easy and ChezUs has done a gorgeous job. On top of it, check out the gorgeous photo!

Alyssa of Sweet and Savory Food with Heart Shaped Red Velvet Cake: This luscious red cake is enough to make anyone swoon!
Ally of Artistic Eatables with Eggs in a Frame: I think anyone would be excited to wake up to such a gorgeous breakfast, myself included!


Tomato Risotto: Cooking with Tessa Kiros

What’s Going on Today: Packing for return to NYC, building last few sand castles on the beach.
Naptime Goals: Reading on the balcony, gather up toys to pack in the diaper bag for the flight.
Tonight’s Meal: Tomato Risotto, Salad

It seems appropriate to kick-off my Cooking with Tessa series while on vacation. If you’ve ever read one of her books you’ll understand that Tessa’s approach to cooking is very similar to mine. She is an accomplished professional chef (I am not a professional, but I feel like one when I cook from her books), busy wife and mother of two. It is clear through her writing and photographs that she is constantly fitting great food into family life and I am simply in awe for her capability to do so.

I’ve been cooking from her books for quite some time, and this is one of my favorite dishes. It’s not a stretch to say that I make this at least twice a month, so it only makes sense that I share this recipe first. 

I chose to make this during our stay in Florida because it is so easy and delicious. Though my daughter has been taking long naps on vacation, (there is nothing like fresh air to tire a kid out!), I’ve been using that free time to relax myself. Therefore, when it comes to make dinner each night I stick to menus that are light, delicious and easy to assemble. In this case I made the Risotto and salad right before dinner time and served some fresh fruit for dessert. 

Note: I plan to continue Cooking with Tessa on a bi-monthly basis, giving you a background on her and her work, sharing favorite recipes and fun tidbits along the way. Enjoy!

Tomato Risotto
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch red pepper
2 large basil leaves, torn
1 c. Arborio rice
4 T. olive oil
3 c. vegetable broth
1 c. crushed tomatoes, with juices
2/3 c. fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
½ c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1. In a wide heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes, or until light and golden. Add the red pepper flakes and rice, cook for one minute more.
2. Next, add ½ c. of the tomatoes, 1 ½ c. hot broth and 1 of the torn basil leaves. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the remaining tomatoes, broth and basil and cook for 10 more minutes, until risotto is fully cooked.
3. Scoop out the smashed garlic and discard. Stir in the mozzarella and Parmesan. Serve with extra Parmesan and drizzle of olive oil. 

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Variation & Ideas: Risotto is one of best kinds of flexible meals. You can add, or subtract, almost anything from it and still have a delicious dish. In this case you could consider adding different herbs, chopped vegetables or even some crumbled sausage. Have fun with the flavors!
Naptime Stopwatch: On vacation I was able to make this in 30 minutes from start to finish. Serve it hot, or make it ahead and reheat it when you want to serve it.
Naptime Notes: This is a great dish for both children and adults. Everyone in the family loves it, it even makes a great first course at a dinner party.


Fish with Artichoke-Mustard Sauce

What’s Going on Today: Family morning on the beach, shell-collecting, walk to town for lunch. 
Naptime Goals: Finish “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (so good!), pick up fish for dinner while Daddy stays at home with napping daughter.
Tonight’s Meal: Grouper with Artichoke Mustard Sauce, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
We spent our first 24 hours in the Sunshine State without much sun, but now it is out in all its glory and it is fantastic! I’ve always been a beach person. Ever since I was little I have loved jumping around in the waves, collecting shells and, these days, building endless castles and moats with my daughter.
In the spirit of vacation mode I am making the posts this week short and sweet. I am sure lots of families are getting ready for spring break and I hope you don’t even bring your computers with you. I did, of course, lest you doubt being a Naptime Chef ever gets put on hold. Because, after all, as long as I’m with my family, I’m cooking!
One of our favorite parts about beach vacation is fresh seafood. Luckily, we have access to good fish year-round, but it always seems particularly appropriate and healthy to eat it when we are actually enjoying ocean views. Last night I whipped up Grouper with this delicious Artichoke-Mustard Sauce. Since I tend not to cook a lot during my daughter’s afternoon naptime while on vacation, I usually rely on some of my fabulous dinners that are easy to make right before we want to eat. (However, it is worth noting, this sauce can easily be made-ahead of time and kept in the fridge until serving.)

Making the sauce is a snap and requires four basic ingredients that can be procured almost anywhere. After I make it I drizzle it on top of broiled fish seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon. Then, I like to serve it with a green vegetable like I did here - green beans with fresh toasted almonds and a dash of olive oil with salt. The flavors in this meal are highlighted nicely by the Artichoke Mustard sauce which has a wonderful balance of tangy with a hint of sweet, and is perfect for dressing fish, chicken or pork. In fact, I bet it would excellent tossed with pasta or orzo, too. I hope this recipe treats you well on your next family vacation. Or, if you can't wait that long, made right in the comfort of your own home.

Artichoke-Mustard Sauce
Adapted from The Uncommon Gourmet
Yields 2 cups
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite size pieces
¼ c. Dijon mustard
6 T. boiling water
1/3 c. olive oil
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1.     Place the mustard in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water in a slow, steady stream and whisk constantly until the water is completely incorporated.
2.     Next, pour in the oil, whisking until the mixture is completely incorporated and there are no bubbles of oil left. Then, whisk in the pepper and lemon juice.
3.     Finally, add the artichokes and give them a quick stir to mix it all together.
4.     Serve as is, over fish, chicken or pork. Or, this sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 10 hours before being served.
Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Ideas & Variations: This sauce would taste great with almost any kind of fish, consider trying it on halibut, cod, scrod or even salmon. It also works well on chicken or pork cutlets.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making this sauce takes about 8 minutes total, a perfectly reasonable amount of time for the key ingredient to your meal. Also, if you are really in a pinch you can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge before you want to serve it.
Naptime Notes: This is a great sauce for children if they like mustard. I saved some for my daughter to use for dipping her chicken fingers for lunch today!


Flourless Chocolate Cake and Cookbook Giveaway!

My Day So Far: Laundry, packing, stocking up the iPod, hoping airport delays will clear up...
Naptime Goals: Make Flourless Chocolate Cake for early Valentine's Day celebration
Tonight's Meal: Take-out from our favorite restaurant, cake for dessert.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: There is no such thing as too many toys in the diaper bag when traveling!

We are celebrating Valentine's Day a little early this year because we will be in Florida during the actual holiday. This doesn't bother us in the least. Hallmark holidays are fun and all, but we don't take them too seriously. In fact, this year we are happy to pass up going out to dinner altogether since we plan to be taking in the ocean breezes from my in-law's porch in Venice, Florida.

There is one thing about Valentine's Day I refuse to give up, however, and that is chocolate. I'll happily forgo balloons, sugar candies and roses, but you'd better give me a rich, dense chocolate dessert or I will be one unhappy girl. For this year's meal we are ordering out from one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. Since we are traveling the following day I don't want to buy lots of ingredients that will go bad in the fridge. Instead, we agreed to order the main course and cap off our meal with a fabulous homemade dessert.

Obviously I am more than happy to be responsible for the cake production given my love of baking. Last year I made mini-bundt cakes and this year we'll enjoy a delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations. You may remember, I hosted a virtual celebration to trumpet it's release back in October. Since then I've been cooking and baking my way through each chapter, loving the delicious results of each recipe.

I don't have a very well-stocked bar, so I had to wing it a bit when it came to the whiskey-soaked currants. I used Grand Marnier instead, which I quite enjoyed. I loved the boozy orange flavor it gave the cake and think I will do it again the next time I make it. Best of all, this cake is ideal to make-ahead. Since part of the process of making it is allowing it to cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours, I had no trouble making it during my daughter's naptime. It would also be great to make in the morning, or even the night before you want to eat it since it can chill for up to 24 hours without going bad.

As you can probably guess, I had about .5 seconds to take the photographs here before my husband dove right in for a bite. I guess that is to be expected with something this good. Happy Valentine's Day!

Since Valentine's Day puts me in the giving mood I am happy to give away a cookbook to one lucky winner. To enter please leave me a comment below by midnight EST on 2/22/10 and tell me your favorite Valentine's dessert!

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake
adapted from Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. dried currants
1/2 c. Grand Marnier
1/2 lb. Bittersweet Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), finely chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/2 c. superfine sugar
1 t. potato starch, sifted
1 t. good quality vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan, set aside.
2. In a small bowl place the currants, add the Grand Marnier and set aside.
3. In a heatproof bowl place the butter and chocolate. Microwave it in 20-second bursts for up to a minute, stirring after each to melt butter and chocolate together. Melting the chocolate can also be done over a double boiler.
4. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Fold in sifted potato starch. Then, with a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate mixture, vanilla, the currants and remaining Grand Marnier from the bowl.
5. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes. The cake will be firm but a test will not be perfectly clean. 
6. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature, the refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Variations and Ideas: The original recipe calls for whiskey or brandy with currants or raisins. If you'd prefer either of those feel free to use them, I liked the orange flavor of Grand Marnier myself. I like to serve this with vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream on the side.
Naptime Stopwatch: Preparing this batter takes about 20 minutes and is very easy. Then bake it, cool it, and dessert is ready.
Naptime Reviews: My daughter did not love the currants in the cake, but loved the rest of it. My husband adored the cake overall, it was a delicious holiday treat.


Crunchy Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon: Webisode #12

My Day So Far: A morning trip to Dorie's Cookie Bar with friends!
Naptime Goals: Prepare Crunchy Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon for dinner, start packing for trip to Florida!
Tonight's Meal: Macaroni and Cheese, green salad with arugula, pine nuts and gorgonzola.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Sometimes packing for vacation feels like moving an army.

I've never met anyone who does not like Macaroni and Cheese. It probably isn't totally off base to assume that it is one of America's favorite casseroles. There are endless variations, and even entire cookbooks devoted strictly to the myriad of ways it can be assembled. My family is no different from the rest of America in our love for this classic dish. In fact, it is often served as the main course at our house these days, too prominent and important to be regarded as the side dish to larger meals like baked ham or steak.

Recently I came across this recipe on Food52 which directed me to this other article by Julie Moskin. In both instances the authors write about their preference, on occasion, for crunchy macaroni and cheese instead of the common creamy variety.  I couldn't agree more. Sometimes I am in the mood for a dense pasta casserole full of white sauce and several mild cheeses similar to my Orecchiette with Three Cheeses and Pancetta, but other times I prefer a sharper cheese and firmer pasta. In fact, to be completely honest, I have been known to eat the crust off of my deep dish macaroni and cheese, then leave the rest for my daughter.

Imagine my glee when I discovered this new technique for making macaroni and cheese on sheet pan. It contains all of the delicious sharp cheddar flavors I love and is baked in a single layer to maintain an even crunch. The touch of milk poured on top helps keep the cheese slightly loose, but this recipe essentially makes a delicious macaroni and cheese crust without the soupy underbelly. To give it some additional flavor adapted the original recipe by adding some crunchy bacon and panko bread crumbs.

To demonstrate how easy this is to prepare I made the video above during my daughter's afternoon naptime. I simply baked the pan and reheated it in the evening. However, I should mention that this is so simple it can also be assembled right before you want to eat if you don't have much time to prepare it during the day. I guarantee once you try this you will love it, it is the family classic re-invented. 

Crunchy Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
adapted from Amanda Hesser and Julie Moskin
3 T. butter
12 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 t. dry mustard
6 strips good quality bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
2/3 c. whole milk
1 lb. pasta spiral or curls
Pinch Salt

1. Preheat oven to 475ºF. Take 1 T. of butter and thickly grease an 11x17 inch jelly roll pan. Make sure every inch is covered.
2. In a large heatproof bowl combine the cheese and set aside 2 c. in a separate measuring cup.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes. Drain.
4. Working quickly, put the drained pasta in the bowl with the cheese, add the mustard, a pinch of salt, the bacon pieces and panko. Using a wooden spoon, toss the mixture until all evenly incorporated.
5. Next, spread the mixture onto the buttered sheet pan and pour the milk evenly over the surface. Top with the remaining cheese and dot with remaining butter.
6. Finally, bake it for 15 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipes Ideas and Variations: If you'd rather not have bacon you can feel free to omit it and just stick to classic Mac and Cheese. Another thought, if you'd like you could add chopped red pepper or tomatoes for a nice vegetable twist.
Naptime Stopwatch: As you can see, making this takes a brief 20 minutes, including baking time. The biggest time saver is staging the cheese and bacon - prepare them ahead of time so everything can be assembled while the pasta is still hot.
Naptime Reviews: This is a huge hit with both adults and children. It is also great for parties, it's easy to prepare and great for kids.


Food is Love: Show us Your Love for Valentine's Day

A few weeks ago Jennifer at Savor The Thyme and I started talking about teaming up for a fun Valentine’s Day event based on the idea that ‘Food is Love.' We thought it would be great to see how everyone shows their love to families through food on this particular holiday. What do you make to brighten someone’s day, put a smile on his or her face?

Share with us your delicious creations along with a little blurb about the dish and, perhaps, a picture of it as well. At the end of the challenge we’ll do a round-up, post every entry and give some fabulous prizes from Scharffen Berger (my personal favorite chocolate ever!) in three categories:
1. Romantic
2. Silly and/or Funny
3. Kidtastic

The Challenges Runs from February 8th - February 16th at Midnight EST.

To Enter:
1) Post about your creation on your blog, linking back to Savor the Thyme and The Naptime Chef. Send us a link and photo of your post! We welcome any posts that were published before the start of our challenge, just be sure to update it with a link to both sites. Enter as many times as you wish.

2) No blog? No problem! Send us a photo, video or vlog of your entry telling us what, where and when it was taken. Provide a URL, if applicable (a still shot or capture would be great, too).

3) Unfortunately we can’t accept international entries.

4) EMAIL YOUR ENTRIES TO: foodislove2010@gmail.com. Please include your name and e-mail address so that we may contact you should you win a prize.

5) Prizes will be announced and sent after the completion of the contest!

Feel free to show us some sweet tweet love. After all, the more support you garner, the better for voting. Tweet about this challenge using the #foodislove hashtag (@savorthethyme @TheNaptimeChef)

There will be a round up on both sites February 18th!

Thanks for your participation!
Jennifer and Kelsey


Spice Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: Webisode #11

My Day So Far: Birthday gift shopping for kid's birthday party this weekend, bus trip across the park for daughter's playdate!
Naptime Goals: Bake Spice Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting for friend's daughter's birthday party. Wrap present and prepare for weekend festivities.
Tonight's Meal: Spaghetti and Meatball night - it never fails to please!
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Toddler hid your credit cards? Check between the books on your bookshelf.

Last weekend was my friend's daughter's 3rd birthday party. She was taking care of the birthday cake and pizza, and to lend her a hand I offered to bring some munchies for the parents. Not that adults don't like birthday cake, but sometimes we need a little something of our own that is not covered with pink princesses and tiny fingerprints.

My friend Jen first introduced me to this recipe for spice cookies with cream cheese filling when she served them as the adult treat at her son's birthday party last fall. I fell instantly in love with the unique flavor from the layered spices, moist texture and creamy filling. To give it my own twist I adjusted the spice ratios a bit and flavored the frosting with Meyer lemons (of course!). The addition of the lemon gives the frosting an added tang that contrasts nicely with the deep molasses. I get the feeling the party guests agree with this flavor pairing, the adults, and one of the toddlers, gobbled them right up.

As you'll see in this video, I made these cookie's during my daughter's afternoon naptime the day before the event. Then, the morning of the party, I whipped up the cream cheese frosting with my little helper, and completed the cookie sandwiches. (I am still thanking my lucky stars she didn't mess up her party dress while she was licking the spatula!) When they were complete I whisked them off to the party in my awesome OXO Good Grip TOP Container, and placed them on the cake stand. Given that I came home with an empty container, I can honestly say they were a hit and would be wherever you might choose to serve them as well.


Spice Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
cookie recipe loosely adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. blackstrap molasses
2 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. Kosher Salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Sanding sugar or granulated sugar for rolling

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 c. confectioners sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar for 3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy.
3. Then, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the baking soda, salt, molasses, spices and pepper. Mix well until everything is completely combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Sift the flour into the batter, mixing only until the flour is not visible anymore. Do not overbeat.
5. Roll the dough into 1 1/2" round balls with your hands and roll in the sanding sugar. Place on a cookie sheet 2" apart and bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are slightly puffy and slightly darker in color. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the Frosting:
1. Mix butter and cream cheese until completely combined. Then, sift in the confectioners sugar and lemon zest. Pour in the vanilla and mix until frosting is completely combined and totally smooth.

To make the cookies: Once the cookies have completely cooled add a little bit of frosting to the underside of one and sandwich a second one on top!

Naptime Naptime:
Naptime Recipe Variations and Ideas: If you don't want a lemon frosting you can always leave the cream cheese frosting plain, or add the zest of an orange or a tiny drop of flavoring extract like vanilla or almond.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making the cookies does not take long, maybe 30 minutes. Allow time for the cookies to cool - at least an hour - before frosting them. Or, store the cookies in an airtight container and frost them the following day right before they are served.
Naptime Reviews: These cookies have slightly more adult flavors, but a lot of kids like them, too. They are great to serve as nibbles on a dessert platter, or just to have around the house!


Pulled-Pork Tacos in the Slow-Cooker

My Day So Far: The usual Tuesday morning mayhem with the added bonus of a colossal yogurt smoothie spill at breakfast.
Naptime Goals: Get the pulled-pork stewing, send document to certain someone for special Naptime Chef project to be announced soon (!)
Tonight's Meal: Pulled-pork tacos with all the fixings, molasses cookies for dessert.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Keeping two-year old's occupied indoors on winter days is next to impossible - break out a bunches of toys and hope for the best!

It is an unwritten rule in my house that when the temperature hovers in the single digits at high noon it is time to rev up the slow-cooker. This useful piece of machinery is apt to be simmering away in our house many times throughout the fall, winter and spring, but it is especially relevant during deep freezes. The slow-cooker is my go-to method for tenderizing meat and making thick hearty stews - exactly the kind of food we rely on to keep us warm while be wait out the cold.

My husband is a real meat and potatoes guy and lately we've been eating a lot of beef and chicken. When we spotted pulled-pork on a menu recently we realized that we hadn't had it in months, it seemed like the perfect thing to refresh our menu. Then, as if we weren't excited enough for dinner already, the temperature in our neighborhood plummeted to a balmy 10ºF where it was predicted to stay for five whole days. This was all the convincing I needed, I picked up the pork at the store and broke out the jar of Williams-Sonoma Pulled-Pork Starter my mother gave us for Christmas.

We've made pulled-pork marinade before as well, and I've included that recipe below. But, I'll have to say, the Williams-Sonoma mix was delicious. After simmering for hours - I started the process during my daughter's afternoon naptime and it was ready by 6pm - the pork shredded beautifully and was tender to the bite with a mellow spicy sweet flavor. In the interest of variety we decided to forgo the usual pulled-pork sandwich and make tacos instead. We set-up a nice little station of condiments, warmed up some flour tortillas and went to town wrapping the meat with sour cream, avocado, cheese and lettuce. With a side of spanish rice we had a perfect meal

Since taco night is a popular occasion in many households I encourage families to think about pulled-pork the next time they pick up a fresh bag of tortillas. I promise, you will love the salty sweet meat topped with your favorite fixings, and the kiddos will, too. My daughter is still a bit of skeptic when it comes to wrapped foods, but she was thrilled with her little pocket of sweet pork, devouring it in just a few bites. Also, if you don't have a slow-cooker don't worry, this pulled-pork can be made in a dutch oven and I've included those instructions below as well. 

Pulled-Pork Marinade
loosely adapted from Good Housekeeping a while back
Serves 2 - recipe can be doubled or tripled easily
1.5 lbs boneless pork roast
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T. tomato paste
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 T. paprika
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. Kosher Salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper

1. In a deep bottom saucepan heat the oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add the pork roast and sear all sides of the pork, including the ends. This will take about 1-2 minutes per side.
2. In a bowl mix the onion, ketchup, tomato paste, sugar, paprika, red pepper, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Add the seared pork to this mixture and coat the pork completely.
3. Add the pork and all of the sauce to the slow-cooker and turn it on per the manufacturers directions. Cook pork for 6-7 hours, or until pork is very tender and cooked through.
4. When pork has completed cooking remove it from the slow-cooker to a cutting board. Shred the meat with a sharp fork. Reserve any sauce from the cooker to drizzle over cooked pork if desired.
Dutch Oven Method: Complete steps 1 and 2. Then, place sauce and pork in a dutch oven. Heat the oven to 325ºF and cook for 3 - 3.5 hours, or until pork is cooked through. Continue with step 4.

Pulled-Pork Taco Methods
1 package of tortillas
Sour Cream
Avocado, or Guacamole
Sliced Red Onions
Shredded Sharp Cheddar
Shredded Lettuce

1. Place the shredded pork in wraps and top with whatever you'd like!

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Ideas and Variations: Taco night is a classic and this is a great new twist on a taco bar. In the mood to keep it healthy? Add bowls of fresh chopped vegetables on the side for toppings, or you can go with our slightly creamier toppings of sour cream and avocado. 
Naptime Stopwatch: Preparing the marinading and turning on the slow-cooker takes all of 10 minutes, then just let it do it's stuff while you happily go about the rest of your day.
Naptime Reviews: This is a kid-friendly dish if there ever was one. The best part? Save the leftovers and enjoy delicious pulled-pork sandwiches for lunch or dinner the following day!