Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A few shots from Two Girls in Tuscany ~ 2017 Village Tour

                Welcome everyone, to view a few of our photos from the 2017 tour of the Tuscan Hilltop Villages! It would be a pleasure to have you join us on one of our tours. Our 2018 schedule has been posted on our web site:  We specialize in holidays for women only in  Italy and France.  Our groups are limited to no more than six guests.

         Stephanie and Carrie, returning guests, are enjoying the scenery and local wine from on top of one of those Tuscan hilltops. We traveled on a very bumpy ancient Roman road, up and around the hills and were certainly ready for a drink! Did I mention opera music? Well, we all enjoyed the talent of our driver...

   We love to visit the local artisans ~ Our friend Dr. Nora Kravis, the goat whisperer, owns and operates Chianti Cashmere. The products you see here are made from the cashmere fibers from the goats she raises on her secluded and peaceful property. The goat farm is a small, private agritourism located not far from Siena.

 Of course we always have cooking classes on our adventures and here the girls have just prepared pasta for the ravioli that was stuffed with ricotta and spinach.

 What would Tuscany be without the wine? We do tastings and enjoy lectures along the way. Below is a photo taken in one of the gardens located at the winery....we enjoy visiting the gardens, depending on the season in both Italy and France.

A truffle hunt is always a highlight on our trip in Italy. We usually find a few, this year, not so many...was so hot and dry this season. We let our chef prepare a meal with our find...never a disappointment! 

      This is a photo of our group this year. We were very blessed to have my associate and dear friend, Monique from France, join us for a few days in Florence. Monique is standing at the far left. Roberta, on the far right. My associate Robin and loving sister, is dressed in pink! This was an incredible group of ladies this trip!

     We always try to get in a few museums and guided tours using friends who are local tour guides in the cities we visit. Here we are on tour in the Duomo Museum in Florence.

     Always a lot of food on our trips....this was one delicious pasta dish we were served on our farewell dinner. Yes, that is fresh apple you see served on an incredible cheese sauce.

     I am getting ready to take some shots of our guests...below, Toby-Ann, return guest, and Ellen Sue from Florida.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Irish Brown Soda Bread

On a recent trip to Ireland, each morning I anticipated and waited patiently for a slice of this bread. I could not get it toasted fast enough and then just slathered the heck out of it with some of that delicious Irish butter. This is a super interpretation of the classic bread recipe found from Cooking Light.

Whole wheat flour, wheat germ and steel-cut oats makes this a really healthy "all-you-need-quick breakfast." You will get about 12 servings with this recipe. I didn't slice too thin....

(Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.)

2 1/2 cups King Author whole-wheat organic flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 T. wheat germ
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 cups of whole buttermilk or if you prefer, low fat buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten.

Combine flours and dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and egg. Mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for around 1 hour. Cool on wire rack.
The easiest and most tasty bread I have made in ages. I feel no guilt when I slice my second piece, especially when it is still warm.   (160 Calories per slice.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

       To prepare these muffins, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

                                                Delicious and so easy to prepare. Serve warm....

For the filling:
Combine 1 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix and blend until smooth.

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
4 large eggs
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil

For the Topping:
1/2 cup of sugar
5 tbsp.flour
1 1/2 tsp.ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions :
In a medium bowl, combine all the spices, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Mix on medium speed with blender until ingredients are well blended. Add all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, just until incorporated.

To make topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the butter in pieces and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is course and crumbly.

To each muffin tin, fill well with a small amount of batter. Taking a teaspoon, drop small amounts of cream cheese batter on top of muffin batter. Now add more muffin batter to cover the cream cheese completely. Sprinkle the prepared topping on each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Monday, July 11, 2016

More fruit fun ~ Roasted Pears with Almond Crunch

Halve 3 Bosc Pears, core out seeds and bake cut side up in buttered baking pan ( about 3 tablespoons of  melted butter) at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Bake uncovered.  Before placing in oven, sprinkle pears with 1/4 cup of sugar. Add 1/2 cup of water to pan for the last 10 minutes. I basted the pears twice with all the pan juice!

For the almond crunch I used one egg white. Whisk the egg white until quite foamy with three tablespoons of sugar. Add 3/4 cup of sliced almonds, preferably with skins until almonds are coated with egg wash.  Spread  the almonds in a thin layer on a greased baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool completely and then break into pieces. That is all there is to it........of course, I had to add some heavy whipping cream for the final touch!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Embrace fruits in season~

The peaches are wonderful this season! Try whipping up a sensational dessert with very few ingredients along with very little effort!

The tart is made from 3 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced and tossed with heated peach preserves.

The crust is: 1 1/2 cups of flour.
                     7 Tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter.
                     1/2 Cup of ice cold water.
                     A dash of salt, extra flour for rolling out on your surface.

All prepared using a food processor~ processing the flour and slowly adding the chunks of butter until it looks like cornmeal, then streaming in the cold water until the dough forms into a ball shape from the processor. Remove the dough and place on a floured surface and roll into an 8 inch disc. Chill the dough disk for 1 hour. Remove and roll out a few inches more giving you enough room to fill with all the sliced fruit. Add  the peach filling, turning in the edges of the pastry and bake on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until  crust is lightly browned.... not much to it! Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Glorious Eggs

There are endless ways, combinations and recipes for whipping up the incredible egg! Just thinking for example: a beautiful egg omelet or poached egg for breakfast. For lunch or dinner we can whip up a range of frittatas. Then moving on to dessert, probably my most favorite, creme brûlée ....oh, I forgot, endless ways to prepare a souffle. The list goes on and on!

The photos here were taken from eggs purchased from a local farmer, pasture raised. They appear to me to be much richer in color and remarkably tasty in flavor.  Now that it is springtime, the hens are in full production having more daylight to run around in the  green pastures dropping these remarkable gems!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mongolian Crunchies

As you can see, these crispy snacks are made from a  simple dough and then deep fried to a golden color.  Every family I visited always served these to us.......part of their welcoming tradition along with the milk tea. They may look like french fries, but had a bland cookie taste. Delicious when served warm.