March 26, 2015

Spring Table Inspiration: Flowers & Arrangements

I don’t want to jinx mother nature, but we finally appear to be turning the corner with spring. You guys, it has been an effing long winter and I am SO happy it is over. I even caught myself going through the spring cleaning ritual yesterday. One minute I was getting rid of a shirt that my son had outgrown. The next minute his dresser contents were all over the floor and I had a fresh bag of hand-me-downs. I also went through our pantry and dining room chucking this and that and even had the windows open for a little while. Welcome, spring, we need you to freshen us all up right now!

I’ve been having a little fun styling up our table for Easter and generally getting things put together again and thought it would be fun to look at some photos for inspiration. Here are a few of my favorite spring tables styles from around the web:

Spring Table Inspiration | The Naptime Chef

Sometimes I forget how food makes a great centerpiece. A giant footed bowl, or even a cake stand, piled high with a pyramid of fresh tangerines is so pretty and bright! (via Frances Palmer)

Spring Table Inspiration | The Naptime Chef

I love the newly revived Dodie Thayer line for Tory Burch. This green is my favorite color in the whole world and it would be the most gorgeous table setting for spring and summer. (via Tory Burch) egg2

These egg shells holding flowers and succulents are adorable. This would be such a fun project with kids! (via Camilla Styles)

Spring Table Inspiration | The Naptime Chef

Anna’s friend Chinae just launched an event company and created these gorgeous flower arrangements. I love how they are dramatic without feeling heavy. They’d be beautiful for the late winter/early spring Easter we are going to have this year. (via The Yellow Table)

Spring Table Inspiration | The Naptime Chef

Artichokes are my favorite vegetable so this is right up my alley. A big pitcher full of artichokes would look so pretty on a side table or a countertop where they can really make a statement. (via Shelterness)

March 24, 2015

22 Maple Syrup Recipes for Right Now

I’ve been having so much fun seeing what recipes you want to try from Butternut Mountain Farm. Don’t forget, the maple syrup giveaway is continuing until Thursday so please come by and enter!

In the mean time, last week I had gathered some great recipes from many of my favorite food blogs. These all feature maple syrup as a natural sweetener and main ingredient. Since maple syrup season is now in full force there is no better time to try them. Enjoy!

Maple Latte


Maple Latte – Simply Stacie (image above)

Maple Bourbon Smash – Food & Wine

3 Maple Syrup Cocktails – The Wall Street Journal

Dark Chocolate Maple Cocoa – Babble Food

 Maple Syrup Milkshake РBite Me More

Maple Salmon from Kalyn's Kitchen

Meat, Poultry, Fish:

Grilled Salmon with Maple Sriracha Lime Glaze – Kalyn’s Kitchen (image above)

Maple Sausage Patties – Simple Bites

Maple Bourbon Apple BBQ Ribs – Snappy Gourmet

Maple Steak Walnut Salad – Our Small Hours

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings – Simply Recipes

Maple Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing – Creative Culinary

Salad with Maple-Balsamic Dressing


Maple Glazed Carrots with Bacon – Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash – Sidewalk Shoes

Salad with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple-Balsamic Dressing – Two Healthy Kitchens (image above)

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple Orange Glaze – Pinch of Yum

Miso Maple Sweet Potato Tacos – Love & Lemons

Maple Pecan Tarts


Pumpkin Bread Pudding Maple Glaze – Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Maple Apple Pudding – Simply Stacie

Maple Delicata Squash Brownies – Fearless Dining

Maple Chocolate Fudge – Our Small Hours

Spicy Maple Cashew Crunch – Around My Family Table

Maple-Pecan Mini Tarts - Babble Food (image above)

March 19, 2015

Maple Syrup 101 with Butternut Mountain Farm + Giveaway

Maple Syrup 101 | The Naptime Chef

Over the weekend we tapped our maple tree and hope to be making our homemade maple syrup soon. While we love this new tradition we never make enough syrup to last the whole year. I always end up buying a big jug or two of pure upstate syrup in Cooperstown whenever we visit. Over the years people have told me they find buying maple syrup intimidating and wonder if it is even worth it. All the grades can seem confusing and it is more expensive then the fake manufactured syrup you find in most grocery stores. So, today my friend Emma from Butternut Mountain Farm is here to clear up any confusion and share a few fun facts about maple syrup.

I am also excited to be giving away two bottles of her delicious Vermont maple syrup which her company is now packaging in squeeze bottles. Emma knows what happens when you mix syrup jugs with small children (a huge mess!) and had the genius idea of making maple syrup easier for kids to handle. I love her ingenuity!

March 18, 2015

Asparagus & Feta Squares and More!

The Meredith Vieira Show Pasta

Easy Tomato Sauce on The Meredith Vieira Show (click link to view live segment)

Asparagus & Feta Squares

Asparagus & Feta Squares on Babble

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Banana Bread on Lifetime Moms



March 17, 2015

Chocolate Guinness Loaf

Chocolate Guinness Loaf

I am not Irish, but I never shy away from a good chocolate quick bread recipe and this seemed like a good day to share one made with a strong Irish beer. I assure you, this is also family-friendly. The alcohol from the Guinness burns off while baking so don’t worry, the kids can eat it too. We made this on Sunday while my son napped. It was a quick one-bowl affair that came together quickly and tasted amazing. It even has made an appearance in the lunchbox this week! I hope you enjoy eating it as much as we do. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 16, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake with Gesine Bullock-Prado + Giveaway!

Let Them Eat Cake Interview & Giveaway

I’ve am longtime fan of Gesine Bullock-Prado. I own every single one of her books and often dream of someday (someday!) being able to bake at her level. She possesses a rare talent for inventing dreamy cakes and succulent sweets, and even elevating things like everyday cookies to a whole new gourmet level. Luckily for us, this spring she has given us yet another incredible baking book: Let Them Eat Cake: Classic Decadent Desserts with Vegan, Gluten-Free & Healthy Variations. There are over 80 recipes for popular homemade sweets and variations on how to make them healthier, gluten-free, and even vegan. Genius! Earlier this month Gesine and I had a quick email chat about her new book and I am thrilled to share it here today. And don’t forget to enter to win a copy below!

1) This is the baking book of my dreams. You update all favorites and give me ways to make them (successfully) for my gluten intolerant/food allergy friends. Hurray! How did you learn all these excellent variations when you don’t struggle with food intolerance yourself? You’re the first person I’ve found that can remove gluten from a cookie without making it taste like cardboard.

I was, for better or worse, raised as vegan (macrobiotic) with intermittent bouts of utter butter and sugar (and pork) insanity when we went back to Germany in the summers. Baking (and cooking) with an eye to both vegan and health concerns is forever ingrained in my soul. And despite my deep resentment at having been forced to bring tempeh in my grade school lunch, I thank my mother, begrudgingly, for making this way of eating and cooking a way of life.

Now, I get giddy when I see new products that expand my alternative baking horizons. My background also benefitted me in my pastry shop and had to bake for customers with food allergies and intolerances. Gluten free baking came naturally since so many European treats are naturally GF (I started my pastry career 10+ years ago making French macaron years before it was the new cupcake and it’s, the ultimate GF pastry) and when a celiac suffering customer craved something all-American, I reveled in the challenge and got to play with all manner of GF flour combos.

I’m also a marathon runner and I find when I’m in training, I want a baked treat that can also act as legitimate fuel for a long run. I’ve developed healthier versions throughout the years where I use nutrient rich grains, healthy fats and sweeteners, like organic palm sugar, that have a low glycemic index and a host of healthy minerals.

Let Them Eat Cake Interview & Giveaway

2) I see a lot of German and Vermont influences in your baking (marzipan! maple! The Big Winooski!) As you continue to develop recipes and expand your repertoire how do these places play a role in your kitchen?

We have a farm and everything around me influences my baking life. I use our goose and duck eggs to make gorgeous meals and insane cakes and I bring my eggs to the other instructors at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center when I teach to spread the eggy love. We tap our maples and sugar each year, so we’re never without the syrup. I keep bees and our little buzzers do their thing and make us honey. We get apples, plums, cherries, berries and even peaches from our land. We get tons of veggies too but it probably won’t surprise you that I lean towards the sweetness in life.

Let Them Eat Cake Interview & Giveaway 2

3) Looking at the variety of recipes in here I’ll admit I’d have had a hard time narrowing down what to include. Are these some of your all-stars? How did you choose?

I’m a mercurial baker and eater. I change with the temperature. This winter, with the insane cold, I’ve been all about chocolate, caramel and shortbread. I’ve also been making loads of puff pastry. Nothing like a few pounds of butter to nurse away the wintertime blues. Come spring time and sugaring season, I’ll be deeply invested in all things maple while I pray for temperatures above freezing. So the recipes are among my favorites with plenty of caramel, chocolate and buttery goodness but my main focus was to choose a well-rounded selection for every baking occasion. So if someone says to you, “Can you bring a Thanksgiving pie….but make it gluten free?”, I’ve got you covered.

4) Can we please pray that spring is on the horizon here in the Northeast? What desserts can you recommend for our spring table? I have a lot of baking for Easter and Mother’s Day coming up!

I hate to be a broken record but spring is all about maple for me. But it’s also about the hope of sunshine and rebirth and that always makes me thing of fresh fruit tarts. The brightness of fresh fruit, arranged just so, is magical. Add some pastry cream and a flaky quick puff crust, you’ve just entered heaven. And despite my love of all things sweet, I have to say that spring means asparagus. It’s the first thing to pop out of the ground here, even when there’s still snow littering the asparagus plots. I grab my garden shears, snip off as many stalks as I need and tear back to the kitchen to saut√© or blanch them so they retain 100% of their sweetness. It’s worth the danger to run with scissors just to taste the freshest of asparagus. Most of the sweetness is lost and toughness sets in after the first day of harvest so getting those puppies prepared minutes after cutting is a beautiful culinary experience. One of my favorite savory tarts with crazy with asparagus.

Let Them Eat Cake Interview & Giveaway 3

5) What’s next for all these amazing desserts and books you produce? I need to see you make them on television!

I’m lucky that the lovely folks at The Talk and Today Show ask me back regularly. I have a great time flying through recipes with those lovely and interesting people. We’ll see what else pops up in the future. Frankly, I’m just happy puttering around in my little animal filled world, exploring the thing I love most: baking.

Thanks for the lovely chat, Gesine!

To enter to win a copy of Let Them Eat Cake!

1) Share your favorite classic dessert and a variation on it you’d love to learn how to make (healthier, gluten-free, vegan, etc.)

2) Follow Kelsey Banfield on Facebook.

3) Contest runs from March 16th at 7:00am until March 23rd at 7am. Winner will be announced in the March 27th newsletter. Good luck!

March 12, 2015

Blueberry Breakfast Bread Pudding

Blueberry Bread Pudding | The Naptime Chef

This blueberry breakfast bread pudding came about when I had to use up leftovers from the fridge. Eggs, challah, blueberries, you name it, all the ingredients were front and center and just about to outlive their welcome in the kitchen. Since the challah had already been used for other things I decided to break it into chunks and marinate it overnight to absorb the flavor like I do with my overnight French toast. In the morning I popped it in the oven and let it bake and bubble until a gorgeous casserole was ready for us all to enjoy.

Blueberry Bread Pudding | The Naptime Chef

This is a great breakfast (or dessert!) for a crowd. It can be easily prepared in advance and appeals to guests of all ages. Be sure to drizzle it with fresh maple syrup before diving in!

Blueberry Breakfast Bread Pudding

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

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  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ loaf stale challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup blueberries


  1. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, and salt until completely smooth and a little foamy.
  2. Place the bread in a butter 9-inch baking dish so that it fits in one even layer. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the bread and it is absorb into the bread. Then scatter the blueberries on top. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill the mixture for 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the dish with foil. Bake it for 20 minutes, or until puffed up slightly. Then remove the foil and bake the casserole for an additional 30 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and set on top.
  4. Allow the casserole to cool for 10 minutes, then scoop out the pudding with a large spoon and serve with maple syrup or desired toppings.