Friday, June 05, 2015

Strawberry and Cream Eclairs

I was always under the impression that eclairs were very difficult to make.  Then a few years ago I watched Martha Stewart make them on her show and I couldn't believe how simple they were to make.  She whipped up the pastry using only butter, water, flour and eggs. Then she piped it them onto a cookie sheet and baked them. What you get is a  little light pastry shell that you can fill with just about anything.  I have been making them ever since!  This time I filled them with Bavarian Custard and some ripe strawberries and topped them with delicious whipped cream. Oh My! 

Strawberry and Cream Eclairs 

1 cup water 
1/2 cup butter 
Pinch of salt 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
5 eggs, room temperature 
1 tablespoon water 
honey and nuts optional 
powdered sugar for dusting

​In a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over high heat, bring water, butter, and salt just to boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture comes away from sides of pan, making a smooth ball. 

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook flour mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until coating begins to form on bottom of pan. Turn into large bowl; stir for 30 seconds. Make well in middle of dough and, using electric mixer, beat in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny and holds its shape when lifted.​ 

Place dough into piping bag fitted with 3/4-inch wide tip. On parchment-lined baking sheets, pipe fingers of dough about 4 inches long and 1 wide. In bowl beat together remaining egg and 1 tbsp water; brush each bun lightly, being careful not to drip down sides.​ 

Bake in 425 degree oven for 12 minutes; reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. With sharp knife, pierce side of each eclair twice. Turn oven off and let eclairs stand for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on rack.​ 

Slice the eclairs lengthwise. Brush tops lightly with honey and sprinkle with nuts if desired. Add filling and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.​

Pastry Cream​

2 cups half-and-half (half whole milk/half cream) 
½ cup sugar Pinch salt 
5 large egg yolks  
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces 
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy. Next whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick.​ 

When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering half-and-half into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 2 hours.

Whipped Cream​

1 1/4 cup heavy cream 
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar​ 

Chill your mixing bowl and beaters by placing them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using. When ready, remove the bowl and beaters and pour in the cream and sugar. Using a mixer, begin by beating the cream on low speed for about 30 seconds and then increase speed to high, continuing to beat until soft peaks form. Add your vanilla and beat until blended. Serve right away or refrigerate.​ 


Once the eclairs have cooled completely, slice off the tops with a serrated knife, making sure to leave the tops and bottoms of each eclair together so that they match up. Fill the bottom half of each eclair with a layer of pastry cream. Then line your strawberries on top. Next, Pipe on a layer of the whipped cream. Place the top of each eclair back on, and dust with powdered sugar. 

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Scrambled Egg and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Sandwich

This was breakfast this morning....simple and delicious! 

Scrambled Egg and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Sandwich

4 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated milk (or half and half)
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and whisk them until they are blended well. Add milk and whisk until blended and light yellow. The more you whisk, the lighter and fluffier your eggs will be. Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in your eggs and let them begin to set for a few seconds. Then push the edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the still liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there's no liquid left. Turn off your heat and continue moving egg around in pan until it is not allow them to brown or overcook or break them up too finely. Keep most of the egg in large pieces. Transfer to warm plate.

Brown Sugar and Apple Glazed Ham slices

1 fully cooked thick ham slice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes Place ham on rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with hot glaze. Bake at 325° for about 10 minutes. With tongs, flip ham slices over and brush glaze on other side. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve any leftover glaze on the side.

Assemble sandwich by toasting and buttering bread first. Then add some ham and eggs and you have a great sandwich good for any time of day or night!

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Homemade Tomato Soup with Bacon

Does everyone remember tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when we were little? It was always a cafeteria favorite at my school. So the other day I got a craving for a bowl...but I wanted a more than just plain tomato soup. So I set out to make a grown up tomato soup....I think you'll love this one! Rich and thick and creamy with specs of  bacon and absolutely delicious
 Homemade Tomato Soup with Bacon

3 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces bacon, diced small
1 quart chicken stock, divided
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
About 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drain the diced tomatoes, reserve the juices. Spread the tomatoes, garlic, onion on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil – about 1/4 cup. Roast for about 20 minutes until caramelized.

Next, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the bacon and saute until golden brown and crispy. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of fat but drain the rest.

Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion. Add in the reserved tomato juice and 2/3 of the chicken stock and stir. Then add the bay leaf and butter to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Next add the fresh basil leaves. Next pour soup into blender or use an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth. If you want the soup to be thinner, add more chicken stock. Taste and adjust seasoning. Last, stir in cream and make a grilled cheese sandwich and enjoy! 

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Barbecue Cheeseburger Sliders

I adore these little sliders.  I mean there's nothing to them, but I just love them. I love the sweetness of the roll and the beefy flavor of the burger. I love everything about them. It all happened one day when I decided to grill some burgers and I spotted some potato dinner rolls in the pantry. I ended up making sliders instead.  Then I saw the Sweet Baby Rays in the fridge and some shredded cheddar cheese and I knew I had a hit.  Now I can't live without them! 

Barbecue Cheeseburger Sliders

1 pound ground Chuck 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
8 small dinner rolls or potato rolls

1 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar and Hickory Sauce

In a medium bowl, mix ground chuck with Worcestershire sauce, cream, salt and pepper and form mixture into sliders. Make a depression in each burger with your thumb so they continue to lay flat while cooking.  Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.

Split your potato dinner rolls in half and put them, cut side down, on the grill. Toast for a minute or two.  Spread the inside of each roll with a little butter and set place on a platter. Cover lightly with foil to keep them warm.
Place the burgers on the grill and grill for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of each burger and continue to grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes depending on how you like them cooked. Remove to a platter. Add one burger to each roll and top with Sweet Baby Ray's.

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Soft Shell Crab Sandwich

For all my true seafood lovers out there...I bring you Soft shell Crabs today! Oh My goodness! If you have never tried them you have no idea what you're missing!

Soft-shells are actually just blue crabs that have shed their shells in a massive warm-weather growth spurt. If they stay in the water, they grow new, larger shells, but when they’re harvested, that process comes to a halt and the crabs stay soft and edible. 

Soft-shell crabs are sold live when in season and we just love them here in Maryland. What people don’t know is that it’s actually really easy to make at home. It’s incredible in summer food—a classic.  I am convinced that Maryland restaurants cook the best soft-shell crabs in the world - after all, we invented the recipe. Crispy, crunchy and beautifully browned, with sweet succulent crab meat inside.

Soft Shell Crabs
4 soft shell crabs

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup four

½ cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

½ teaspoon pepper

After the crabs have been cleaned soak them in the buttermilk for about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, panko, Old Bay, and pepper in a platter for dredging.  Heat the butter for frying.

Remove the crabs from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drain off then dredge in the flour mixture.  Make sure they’re coated very well.  Add each crab to the butter and cook until the shell looks pink, and the coating is nicely browned.  If cooking more than 1 at a time, don’t overcrowd the pan. When nice and golden brown, transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Serve on a sandwich with Lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise!  YUM! 

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Cinnamon Roll Wreath

I love making cinnamon rolls and then packing them up and freezing them individually so whenever I want one, I simply pull one out and warm it up. There is nothing like a good cinnamon roll and a cup of hot coffee.  I use a lot of Rhodes frozen dough to make different recipes. This past Sunday I discovered that Rhodes made their own cinnamon rolls and I knew they had to be good. So I bought a bag and decided to get creative and make a cinnamon roll wreath. Turned out so pretty and it was absolutely delicious! 

Cinnamon Roll Wreath

1 bag of Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls (12 pack)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

First line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then line all 12 cinnamon frozen rolls on the lined baking sheet. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your counter or on another baking sheet and spray it lightly with non stick spray. Then flip the plastic wrap over to cover the rolls and leave them alone to thaw for about an hour. 

Once the rolls have thawed, remove the plastic wrap (nothing should stick because you spray it first with non-stick spray) and arrange the cinnamon rolls in a 9 inch ring overlapping each other. Once again, cover with sprayed plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise until they double in size. 

Remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Cream Cheese Drizzle

With an Electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sugar and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add salt, lemon juice, and milk; mix on low speed until smooth. If glaze is too thick to drizzle, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

NOTE: Rolls come with their own cream cheese frosting but I prefer to make my own. You can use them to serve extra glaze on the side if you'd like.


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Cheese Danish

Who out there likes Cheese Danish with a cup of hot coffee or tea? Oh there are many kinds of danish...cherry, apple, cinnamon...all kinds to choose from. But there's just something about a cheese danish that makes me a happy girl. I made these this morning and they were so good still warm out of the oven. I make them with Pillsbury Crescent rolls!
Cheese Danish

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury recipe creations seamless dough

1/4 cup flour, for dusting the counter
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
powdered sugar for sprinkling if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. 

Roll canned dough onto floured surface. Stretch dough to 16 inches by 8 inches. Cut into 8 squares. Put a tablespoon of cheese mixture in the center of each square. Fold the corners toward the center and lightly press together. Transfer to a nonstick baking sheet and brush the tops with egg wash. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until tops are golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

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Monday, June 01, 2015

Cucumber Caprese Salad

If you love growing your own vegetable garden, this is a wonderful little salad you can make with a few cherry tomatoes and a couple of cucumbers!  But even if you don't garden you'll love it. It is so unbelievably simple, and so delicious and healthy and just perfect for a summer picnic or cookout. You can serve it as a main dish or side. Or, you could even spread it on toast or Brushetta or a Crostini for a wonderful appetizer! And don't forget my favorite olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Star Fine Foods for all your summer salads! 

Cucumber Caprese Salad

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes 
2 English cucumbers, cut into chunks
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks or sliced and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon sugar 
1 garlic clove, minced 
Pinch of salt, 
pepper and more sugar, to taste

Wash, dry, and cut up the cucumbers and rinse the tomatoes. Place both in a large bowl. Add the basil and mozzarella. Next, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour over the tomato-mozzarella mixture and toss. Serve immediately.

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Look for STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the olive oil section of our local grocery store or online at:

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout! 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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