Monday, March 7, 2011

The Times They Are A'Changing

Sunday afternoon was a great time to get started on baking for a baby shower that's happening next weekend. Baby Sister will be getting a new cousin and playmate and we'll be welcoming my sister into the "grandmother club." Spending time in the kitchen was easier yesterday because Granddaddy offered to be the baby keeper. I never lack for help with the baby. I think she is a granddadddy's girl in the making. Yesterday he taught her the importance of Sunday afternoon naps.

Thinking about this baby shower makes me remember how little girls used to learn about hosting parties. The ladies of the church would gather once a month in someone's home for the circle meeting. I always thought it was called a "circle meeting" because the ladies sat in a circle. Dainty foods were served on small plates. Planning the refreshment menu was serious business. It was all very proper. And when the circle met at our house, my job (at about age 6) was to pass the napkins around to the ladies. I felt so important. 

One thing that was usually on each plate at these meetings was a tiny paper cup of nuts. I had not thought about these little nut cups in ages until I saw the little paper cups at the grocery store this morning. Except they are no longer labeled "nut cups" -- these packages said "gelatin shot cups!!!" Oh my, how times have changed! Glad none of the ladies from the church circle could see me buying these.

A favorite recipe we use now for most showers are chicken salad puffs. A dear friend shared her recipe for the puff shells several years ago. They are so easy to make. Fill them with your favorite chicken salad. Or anything else you might think of. It's the recipe for cream puff shells but we use them for appetizers. Give them a try and you'll be surprised how easy they are.

Miniature Cream Puffs

1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Boil water and butter, then turn on low heat. Add flour all at once, stirring rapidly. Cook and stir until thick and mixture leaves sides of pan. (Looks little like play dough at this point.) Remove from heat.

Put dough into mixing bowl. (I like to use a stand mixer but have done it with a hand mixer.) Add eggs one at a time, beating good until mixture looks shiny and breaks off spoon when spoon is lifted.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. (Use fingertip to make a swirl on the top of each one.)

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until puffy and brown. Cool and remove from sheet. Use the tip of a small sharp knife to split each puff in half ALMOST all the way through. (Leave a "hinge".)

The puffs can be made ahead and frozen unfilled.

If you want to make these for dessert, just make them larger and bake a little longer. You can tell when they are done by the golden brown color. Fill with custard or flavored whipped cream.


  1. Just watched Martha Stewart make these puffs on TV this morning. If I had known they were called 'pate a choux" I'm not sure I would have ever tried to make them. She did it exactly like I do except she piped them onto the pan.

  2. Jerry is still a tad bitter about all the goodies denied him when he was young because they were "for the circle".


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