Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ladies lunch.


I was invited to lunch at someone's home a few weeks ago to see an old friend who was visiting from Canada. There were just four of us that day, and I don't know when I've spent a more enjoyable afternoon. Our hostess's home was a beautiful setting, and our conversation and food were delightful.

When I decided to host a lunch meeting for the National Charity League Tea committee that I'm co-chairing, I took inspiration from that afternoon's menu and served Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Apricots, Leslie’s Tomato Soup and a slice of baguette with my perennial fall favorite Pumpkin Bars for dessert. The chicken salad was light and fresh with a lot of flavor and a nice crunch to it. The tomato soup was heavenly, and the pumpkin bars were a hit, as always. Several ladies requested the recipes.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Apricots
from South of the Fork by the Junior League of Dallas

½ cup chopped almonds, toasted
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup salad oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup sliced green onion tops
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (2 pounds)
1 red apple, diced

Combine lemon juice, oil, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, onion and lemon peel. Add apricots and let stand at least 30 minutes. Toss chicken with dressing mixture. Before serving, add almonds and apple. Salt to taste. Serves 8.

Leslie's Tomato Soup

1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cans Campbell's condensed Tomato Soup
1 can chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes
½ cup sour cream
fresh ground pepper to taste
crisp bacon, chopped (for garnish - optional, but delicious!)

Sauté onions in butter. Stir in soups, tomatoes and sour cream. Heat and serve topped with chopped crisp bacon.

**Eloise's note: I added some fresh basil because I wanted to use what's left in my herb garden before the cold gets it. I also puréed the soup with my immersion blender before serving; my friend Leslie prefers a chunkier texture. Either way it's delicious!

Pumpkin Bars
adapted from this recipe on

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in pumpkin, eggs and oil. Spread batter in greased 15½ x 10½ x 1" baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack before frosting.

Frosting: 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter together until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled cake in a thin layer. Refrigerate until cold then cut into bars (can be cut at room temperature, but it is messier). Makes 24.

Please forgive the bad pictures; the ladies I was sitting with for lunch thought I was crazy, I'm sure, for photographing my plate. I was too embarrassed to explain or take more!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dots the baker.


Dots had a Revolutionary War assignment for school that she worked on this weekend.

For her project Dots decided to bake a cake in the shape of the Liberty Bell (she also had to write a report about the Liberty Bell). She made the whole cake from scratch using this recipe from the Gourmet cookbook. Dots baked the cake in a 9x13 pan and then used a paper template she had cut out based roughly on the measurements from this website to slice the rectangle into a bell shape.

The cake after Dots had cut and assembled it

For the frosting Dots used the buttercream recipe on the box of Domino's Powdered Sugar, adding varying amounts of melted chocolate to achieve different shades of brown. She pasted facts about the Liberty Bell around the side of the box holding the cake.

Dots frosting the cake. She used a slightly lighter brown for the bell itself and darker shades for the wood holding the bell and for the details

Outlining the bell and adding finishing touches


I thought Dots' project turned out quite well and am very proud of her!


Ready to take to school tomorrow