Friday, March 29, 2013

Raspberry Almond Twists

I am always up for making homemade breads.  But I also like to make them a little special.  I saw a recipe that looked great and I wanted to try it.  But I love the depth of flavor you get from using active dry yeast with more chances to rise your dough, and I don't often if ever used store bought filling.  So this is what I came up with.  My husband tore through these! I hope you like them too.

Raspberry Almond Twists

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Berry Spinach Salad

This is a wonderful salad for the spring and summer.  It has bright colors and fresh flavors with the berries and the almonds and dressing make it taste almost like candy!  It's ok if you lick your bowl clean.  I've done it too... Just don't tell anyone!

Berry Spinach Salad

1 5 oz bag/package of baby spinach leaves
1 pint strawberries, washed, stemmed, and quartered
1 6 oz package of blueberries, washed
1/2 cup sliced candied almonds
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
Deliciously Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette

In a large bowl layer the spinach, almonds, feta, strawberries, and blueberries.  Serve the dressing on the side.

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Deliciously Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette

This is a recipe I have been using for a long time and I have experimented with different oils.  Many kinds work fine: grapeseed oil, canola oil, regular vegetable oil, sunflower oil... All I suggest is using a good quality one.  You don't have to but your taste buds will thank you!  I took this dressing with a salad last night to a church function and it disappeared at an alarming rate.  So here is the recipe for you to try.  Feel free to adjust the sugar ratio to your taste and/or use honey instead.  This is great on a variety of salads and I love dipping plain old cucumbers in it for an afternoon snack.  Mmmm. Enjoy!

Deliciously Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette

3/4 cup Safflower oil (or your favorite clear vegetable oil)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

In a salad dressing shaker or large mason jar combine oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, salt and paprika.  Seal the lid and shake well until completely combined.  Store extra in the refrigerator.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Pancakes are a favorite breakfast at our house and though I like a good regular pancake I am always trying ways to spruce them up a bit.  This was a variation that used yogurt and fresh apples and cinnamon for a great flavor.

 Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chocolate Drizzle Biscoff Cookies

If you haven't figured out by now I love cookies.  I could eat them everyday and not feel bad about it. I am loving the Biscoff spread I found a few months ago and was excited to make more yummy cookies with it!  This is what I came up with.  Tell me what you think!  I left some plain for my son who doesn't like chocolate (I know he's not right in the head :)) and they were delicious that way too.

Chocolate Drizzle Biscoff Cookies

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make your Yeast Rise

Yeast can be intimidating to work with especially if you are new to breadmaking.  My first attempt with yeast was a disaster.  My water was too hot and I killed it.  Instead of beautiful golden brown fluffy breadsticks, I got hard dense, bricks of something that kind of looked like bread but was barely edible.  My poor husband tried to eat them to spare my feelings but he didn't have to tell me I destroyed them.

I have learned a lot about using yeast since then and with practice and some knowledge in your back pocket you can create beautiful homemade breads and baked goods your family will love!

So, stop being intimidated and make your yeast rise!

What is Yeast? Yeast is alive.  Yeast a single-celled fungus.  This micro-organism can be found in the air, in the soil, and on plants.  Yeast has been around for so long it is even referred to as the oldest plant cultivated by man.  Research shows that ancient Egypt was the home of modern bread. Archaeologists digging in Egyptian ruins found grinding stones and baking chambers, as well as drawings of 4,000-year-old bakeries. 

The yeast used for baking is derived from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Yeast is an essential part of making bread.  It is a leavener which is a catalyst in the fermentation process.  A leavener produces gas that makes the bread rise.  Yeast releases gas by feeding on the sugars in flour and expelling carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide from the yeast forms several bubbles throughout the dough giving baked bread its airy texture.

The fermentation has three functions in bread making: Rising the dough; dough development; and flavor, aroma, and texture.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

We have been living in Virginia now almost three years and have heard of Brunswick Stew but never actually had any.  On a recent trip to North Carolina we finally had some.  Wow, this stuff is good.  After cooking a Boston Butt we had left over shredded Pork and my husband asked to make some of this wonderful stew.  I searched around and modified the recipes to a manageable portion and to the ingredients I had on hand.  For instance I didn't have Lima beans so I substituted the cannelloni beans.  Let me know what you think!

Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

1 russet potato, peeled, diced, and cooked
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar based bbq sauce
2 Tbsp sweet bbq sauce
3/4 lb fully cooked pulled pork (5 cups shredded meat) (can substitute, shredded chicken, beef, or turkey or combination of all meats)
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 15.25 oz can of corn, drained
1 15.5 oz can of cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken broth

Boil the potato until fork tender.  Meanwhile heat a pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter and add the onion and garlic.  Cook for 15 minutes until very soft.  Add the paprika, salt and pepper and cook 5 more minutes.

 In the bowl of your crock pot add the meat, onion mixture, potato, tomatoes, corn, beans, broth, worcestershire and bbq sauces.  Stir to combine.  Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sprinkle Sugar Drops

I wanted to make something fun for my kiddos for the holiday.  Sugar cookies are always a favorite but sometimes you just don't want to deal with frosting.  These hit the spot!  They are festive, quick, and easy.  And the best part of all is the kids love them.

Sprinkle Sugar Drops

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp colored sprinkle sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl or Kitchen Aid cream the butter, shortening and sugar for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, making sure to get the bottom.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add to the butter mixture in two additions mixing on low just until the flour is all incorporated.

In another bowl or in a gallon zip top bag combine the remaining sugar and colored sprinkle sugar.  Give a quick stir or shake to combine.  Using a medium scoop drop the dough into the sugar and shake to coat.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and if desired press down lightly with the bottom of a glass.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until set, not brown. Let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These cookies are a little doughy still right when you pull them from the oven.  They taste better after they have had a chance to cool and set up.

Makes 3 dozen medium cookies

Friday, March 15, 2013

Orange Sweet Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls and when I was at the store the other day the beautiful oranges were calling my name.  I remember my Grandma making orange rolls when I was growing up and they were fabulous.  So to bring back fond memories I made these.  Your kitchen will smell heavenly! I hope you enjoy one of my family traditions.

Print Recipe

Great Grandma Allen's Orange Sweet Rolls

1 cup scalded milk
3 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
zest of 2 medium oranges
4 Tbsp butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3-5 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (95-105 F).  Combine the milk, butter and sugar.  Add the beaten eggs and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Stir together and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.

Stir down and add the salt and 3 cups flour to make a soft dough (will be more like a thick paste).  
Rise for 2 hours.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nominated for a Liebster Award!!!

First and foremost I want to thank Krista @ Joyful Healhy Eats for nominating me.  You are awesome darlin' and you have an amazing blog!

Starting this blog has been a wonderful experience for me.  I love to share the things that I make and the things that I love with you.  Thank you for sharing in my journey to try new things and bring out those tried and true favorites with me!  I love all your comments and I appreciate you stopping by to check out my blog!  I hope you enjoy the time you spend here and will come back again!  

My goal was to offer something of value and hoped that someone would find me out of all the amazing blogs out there on the internet.  I am grateful to a Heavenly Father that has given me this boost that I needed!
For those of you who are still learning “blog talk” like me, the Liebster Award is an award given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers and have been in existence for less than 6 months.

Here are the Rules:

  • Share 11 random facts about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions the nominator has asked you. 
  • Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.
  • Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
  • Go back to their page and tell them about the award.

11 Random Facts about Me:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baby Boy Flannel and Minky Dinosaur Tag Blanket

Several friends and family members are having babies soon and/or are adopting babies!  I love to make things special for them to celebrate the new members of their family.  I've made 4 of these little cuties over the last month.  They are so soft and snuggly, I hope they get lots of use!

Baby Boy Flannel and Minky Dinosaur Tag Blanket

(3/4 of a yard of flannel + 3/4 of a yard of minky will make 2 Tag blankets)

17x17" square of flannel fabric
17x17" square of minky fabric
cut 10 5x3" rectangles of flannel fabric

cut 10 5x3" rectangles of minky fabric
Coordinating thread
4" dinosaur patch (or a 4" circle or square of your favorite fabric reinforced with fusible interfacing)

First pin your patch/applique where you want it, remembering to factor in seam allowances.  Using a tight zig sag stitch on your sewing machine satin stitch around the border. Then right sides together sew along the two open edges of all of the "tags" at a 1/4" seam allowance.  The flannel sews pretty easily but the minky stretches as you sew, once you get the first couple of stitches going it goes pretty easy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chocolate Chip Toffee Munchers

For those of you who know me, you know I am always up for a cookie!  In one of my cookbooks it talks about Minnesota Munchers and how fabulous they are so I had to find a recipe.  I found one and knew it was for me.  I made a few changes and must admit, these were fabulous.  I hope you love them too!

Print Recipe

Chocolate Chip Toffee Munchers 

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup toffee bits
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

In a large bowl cream the butter and brown sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Scrape down the sides.  Combine the flour, corn starch, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl and stir to mix.  Add the flour to the wet ingredients in two additions, mixing just until the flour is incorporated.  Add the chocolate chips, toffee bits, and pecans and mix on low just until combined.

It is best if you chill the dough for about 2 hours before baking.  But not necessary.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Use a medium scoop and transfer the dough to an ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are set and the bottoms are golden brown.  (adjust your time as necessary)

Makes 4 dozen medium cookies

Who wants a cookie?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cherry Almond Vanilla Chewies

I love cookies.  It is the one thing that I could probably eat every day and not care what I looked like because of it.  I have been sharing with my neighbors and on my way home from the store today they stopped me and asked when the next batch was coming.  So I guess I had better get back to baking because I'm not the only one that wants to keep eating them!

Print Recipe

Cherry Almond Vanilla Chewies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped dried tart cherries
1/2 cup sliced candied almonds, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp water

In a large mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, and cinnamon until fluffy about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat well.  Mix the salt with the flour and add in two additions, mixing on low just until the flour is incorporated.  Add the almonds and cherries and mix on low or with a wooden spoon just until mixed.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350 F when ready to bake.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a medium scoop to make evenly sized cookies.  Flatten each mound of dough with the palm of your hand or press with a glass dipped in sugar (it will stick so you might have to pull off and repair).  Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the edges are turning golden and the cookies are puffed.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

In a bowl mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, almond, and water with a spoon or small whisk.  Drizzle over each cookie and allow to set up completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 20 medium cookies


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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