For my youngest daughter’s 14th birthday 🙂Pin It
Peppermint Mocha Cookies, from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Christmas Cookie Sparkles, also from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Christmas Sugar Cookies with Easy Icing – again, Sally’s Baking Addiction 🙂
And finally, my daughter Bella baked and frosted these incredible cupcakes! Snowflake Cupcakes from Glorious Treats.
In preparation for a summer of fresh fruit for jam-making, I’m clearing out my freezer, and needed a use for leftover pie cherries. This recipe for cherry oat bars is easy and delicious, and it turned out perfectly!
Ingredients for cherry filling:
4 cups fresh or frozen cherries (pitted and stemmed)
2/3 cup sugar
8 tbsp cornstarch
juice from two lemons
Ingredients for bars:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup butter
Cherry filling: In saucepan, bring cherries, sugar, and lemon juice to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and boil, stirring, until thickened (about 1 minute). Let cool to room temperature (although truth be told, and only let it cool a little, and it worked just fine).
Bars: Mix together ingredients, cutting in the butter until you form a crumbly mixture. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Spread 2/3 of the bars mixture in the bottom of the pan and pat firmly and evenly. Spread the cherry filling over the base, then crumble the rest of the bar mixture over the filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Zest of one lemon
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line a muffin tin with wrappers, or grease well.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, apple sauce, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until just combined.
Fold in the cranberries.
Fill each muffin tin 2/3 full with the batter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until puffed, firm, and golden brown on top.Pin It
This time of year, it’s so easy to come up with quick and delicious baked desserts . . . we hosted two big pool parties this weekend, and that was enough of an excuse for me to bake. I used raspberries, blackberries, and marionberries from our garden and local peaches. So yummy!
We bought so many bing cherries this week that there were leftovers – instead of letting them go bad, I pitted and sliced about a half-flat of them and made Healthy Cherry Oatmeal Muffins. I don’t know how healthy they are, but the only sugar is 3/4 cup brown sugar, and the liquid is provided by 1/4 cup canola oil, buttermilk, and an egg. In any case, they’re delicious! With only 1 cup of roughly chopped cherries, you get muffins chock-full of fruit, so I had lots leftover. I put them into freezer bags so I can make these later this fall and into the winter.
I took advantage of the local strawberries and rhubarb at the farmer’s market this week to make these delicious bars. Good for breakfast, dessert, or any time! Variations on the basic recipe can be found on Modest Marce and on Smitten Kitchen.
Step one: find delicious fresh strawberries!
Step two: slice strawberries and chop up rhubarb.
Step three: mix up the crisp, line pan with parchment paper, press half of the crisp into the bottom of the pan, then add fruit.
Step four: top with the remaining crisp and bake.
Step five: refrigerate after baking to help the bars harden a little (this helps with cutting). Cut them into bars and serve!
Every year at Christmastime, my dad and I make my great grandmother Maude’s fudge recipe. It’s not fancy or complicated – in fact, it only has four major ingredients: butter, sugar, chocolate and marshmallow. How can we go wrong with those?
In celebration of my daughter Isabella’s 13th birthday:
And this photo was taken right before the banner caught on fire 🙂
To celebrate, Bella chose to take her posse of girlfriends to the Portland Art Museum, then out to dinner downtown and drop-in at St. Cupcake to get sugared up before returning home for a (no-sleep) sleepover.
I’ve always wanted to try making a pumpkin pie from REAL pumpkin – not the glop in a can – and I was inspired by the step-by-step directions here to give it a try. It turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, and really successful even the first time around.
First step: purchase pie pumpkins (which give you the best flavor and consistency, aren’t too stringy or watery, and at about a 6″ diameter, are small enough to be manageable), cut in half and scoop out the guts. I used a pruning saw to cut the pumpkins – much easier than even a big knife! – and a serrated melon baller to scrape out the insides. I didn’t worry about getting every little bit, but I wanted them pretty much clean and string-free.
Second step: place pumpkins face down in baking tray and bake for 45-90 minutes at 350 degrees. At first, it seemed like nothing was happening, but by the time 90 minutes had passed, the rinds were soft and the insides were starting to look a little toasted.
Third step: scrape pumpkin meat from the rinds. Actually, it was even easier than this – most of the time, the rinds just peeled or even lifted right off. I ended up with a bowlful of somewhat chunky pumpkin meat.
Fourth step: puree pumpkin meat. I first tried a hand blender, then a big traditional blender – neither had any luck breaking up the somewhat chunky and thick pumpkin meat. The food processor, however, made quick work, pureeing it to a perfect consistency (as long as I did it in fairly small batches). I didn’t have any problems with the puree being too watery.
That’s it – perfect pumpkin puree! The next step was to make the pie – I have a really good oil pastry crust recipe from my mom for pie crust, but I wanted to try to make this beautiful pie, so I used this recipe. I think, in hindsight, it was a big mistake. First, talk about high-calorie! My recipe is just flour, vegetable oil (not a lot) and water, and it makes pretty nice, flaky pastry. This recipe called for almost TWO cubes of butter, plus another one-third cup of shortening! Also, I had trouble rolling the pastry out thin enough, so it feels a little too heavy.
The recipe made more than enough for one deep-dish pie, so I used the extra dough for a small pie-in-a-bowl, and I cut several thin strips to braid for the crust edging. The braiding was simple enough, but I wasn’t clear on how to attach it to the edges of the pie, so I just kind of smooshed the edges and the braid together. It held up well enough until I put it in the oven – then, largely because all of the butter made the heated pastry so slippery and soft, the braid just kind of melted down into the inside of the pie! I pulled it out, propped the braid back up, more squishing to attach it to the main crust, then back in again. This time it held, but my final product is less than picture perfect, that’s for sure!
Another problem I had was baking time – I left the pie crust in for 15 minutes, then 20 minutes (as called for in the recipe), but it was still so doughy and soft, I was nervous about putting the filling in at that point. I let it bake another 15-20 minutes before finally calling it good and taking it out. It was never clear to me how done it was supposed to be in this first stage of baking.
The pie filling was easy enough to mix up, but again, talk about a calorie overload! One-half cup of sugar AND one-half cup of honey (which is a lot of honey, let me tell you) AND more than a cup of whole cream . . . oh boy. Usually I just mix pumpkin puree with some sugar and skim milk (and then cinnamon and spices) and that’s it, it’s still very tasty, but a lot more reasonable calorie-wise. Anyway, I whipped up the filling and poured it in – it was enough to fill both my deep-dish pie and my pie-in-a-bowl to the rim. Back into the oven they went . . . I did over the braided edges of the crust with aluminum foil, because they started to brown too quickly. Otherwise, it baked just as called for in the recipe.
I think that the finished product looks – and tastes – pretty good (other than the smashed braided edging), but next time, I’m going to try a lower calorie option for both crust and filling. I did save the pumpkin seeds, washed and dried them, then coated them in butter and salt and baked them – delicious, but I think I should have toned down the butter just a little (or altogether) 🙂
One other note – the beautiful rolling pin and pie dish are both from Farmhouse Pottery, and I love how they feel and look!
I didn’t intend to put up tomato sauce this year, but I had so many tomatoes, I had to find something to do with them!
My friend made me this beautiful fir peg board to display my favorite mugs – particularly the ones I’m hand throwing myself 🙂 I love all the little details – the lines of the boards, the routed edges, and how the pegs angle up slightly to keep the mugs safely in place. I’m guessing I’ll have the entire board filled in no time!Pin It
My youngest turns 10 years old today 🙂
We continued with our tradition of a homemade and decorated birthday cake that represents an interest of the birthday girl/boy – Alia’s lifelong love of bunny rabbits remains strong, so I’ve come up with many versions of a bunny cake over the years!
Because age ten is the first age in our household when sleepovers are allowed, this birthday was met with much excitement, and as gifts, Alia’s grandmother sewed her a bunny pillow:
And I sewed her a quick and easy sleeping bag:
I found these wonderful Cotton + Steel bunny-themed fabrics at Bolt (bunnies and moons, how perfect for a sleeping bag!) and sewed the bag and a matching pillow without a set pattern, as follows:
Exterior and interior fabrics – 3 1/3 yards each – for both the outside and the inside, cut the fabric in half lengthwise (so you have two pieces that are 60″ long), then cut each piece to 36″ wide. Sew these two pieces together, so you have one piece that is 72″ wide x 60″ long.
To sew the ties, cut 18 pieces 3″ x 12.5″ (you’ll have enough fabric left over to do this), fold lengthwise, sew one short edge and one long edge, leaving one short edge open. Then turn right side out and press.
Next, create a “quilt sandwich” by laying the exterior fabric right side up, then the interior fabric on top of it (right side down), and then the batting on top of both (I bought the highest loft batting I could find, and then used a double layer). Cut around all sides to get all of the fabrics and battings the same dimensions, then pin together along the edges, tucking the ties inside (unfinished edge lining up with the edge of the fabrics/batting, and the length of the tie tucked in between the two fabrics).
Sew along all four edges with a 6/8″ seam, leaving an 18″ wide hole in the middle of the top edge. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the top edge hole. Then, stay stitch around all four sides again (this will help to give the bag a defined edge, and will close up the top side hole, as well). Finally, I used a bar tack stitch approx every 10″ to give the bag “puffiness” and to hold the batting in place and keep it from shifting around.
My ties along the bottom didn’t line up as nicely as I had hoped – I’m not sure what went wrong, I measured (but apparently not accurately enough!), but my side ties line up nicely. The ties are a nice alternative to having to sew in a zipper, and they allow you to open up the bag and lay it flat, if you choose to do so.
This was a rush job and I could have done it more neatly – it was a little difficult stitching through so many layers, especially two layers of thick batting, and my sewing machine wasn’t thrilled to do it, but it came out all right in the end.
I found this recipe on Pinterest . . . a quick and delicious breakfast bread for the holiday season! I think it’s the brown sugar and butter strudel topping that makes it so tasty . . . although I was surprised by how much I liked the tang that the cranberries give it. I bought the cranberries from a local Oregon farmer at the Portland farmer’s market right before Thanksgiving, and they stayed fresh in the fridge for some time. Since I’m not a big fan of cranberry sauce, I’m happy to find another way to support our local cranberry bogs!Pin It
Tis the season!
Although we have a grape arbor in the yard, its production has been really poor in recent years. I’m not sure what the problem is – although I suspect it has something to do with how we’re having it pruned. Something to look into for next year . . .
In the meantime, a family member kindly provided me with some wonderful purple Concord grapes from her yard, and even though they filled only a small bucket, they produced approximately eight cups of juice – more than enough for a batch of grape jelly.
Step one: I washed the grapes and pulled out as many stems, green berries, etc as possible. I then put the grapes in a large pot and crushed them with a potato masher. Next, I added just enough water to cover the grapes and put them on the stove to boil. Once they came to a boil (stirring to avoid scorching), I reduced the heat to simmer for ten minutes.
Step two: I poured the contents of the pot into a sieve and let the juice run thorough, then helped to complete the process by smooching the grapes against the sides of the sieve to get out as much juice as possible.
Step three: I measured out 4 cups of juice into a large pot on the stove, and added 2/3 cup water and 4 tlb low sugar / no sugar pectin. I brought the pot to a rolling boil, then added approx 3/4 cup sugar, brought the pot back to a rolling boil, and stirred constantly for one minute. Then I turned off the heat and hot bath canned the jelly for 10-15 minutes.
I’m always nervous that the jelly won’t set up, and I’ll end up with a runny mess, and it’s true that you have to wait a while to be sure (I think because the jelly is so hot at first, it still looks very liquid), but by evening, the jars seemed to be setting up nicely. I’m thinking I have one more batch of jelly in me, before I move on to applesauce . . .
Other late-summer harvests including freezing raspberries to make fruit smoothies throughout the winter, and canning tomato sauce from a delicious roasted tomatoes/veggies recipe – I’ll try to get it posted, it’s worth trying!
I’ve been busy harvesting and then trying to find enough uses for our garden bounty around here! This week:
* I bought blackberries at the farmer’s market (we picked some, but it takes forever, and the ones at the market are so much bigger and juicier!) and put up blackberry jam using almost no sugar with Ball Low or No-Sugar Pectin.
* I dug carrots, onions, and potatoes and used this recipe to make an oven-roasted vegetable medley.
* In a desperate attempt to use up our prolific zucchini, I’ve made this chocolate zucchini bread with applesauce (which makes it at least a little healthy, right?) and these zucchini parmesan sticks. I can’t take credit for the photos – they’re from the recipe pages – mine weren’t near as pretty, but definitely delicious!
I’ve planted several pie cherry trees in my fruit tree orchard, and they’re finally starting to produce, but between what the birds eat, what we can reach, and how much time we’re willing to spend picking (and pitting!) the cherries, we don’t end up with a whole heck of a lot to show for it. This year, we managed to harvest just enough pie cherries to make use of two of my tiny, individual-sized pie dishes. Aren’t they cute?
The pies were actually delicious – we got the balance of sweet and tart just right, and the filling wasn’t gooey, like it so often is with cherry pies. I thought there would be too much crust vs filling in these tiny pies, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all, and amazingly, the pies baked perfectly, without even burning on the edges! (I think it helped to cover them with foil partway through, once they started to brown).
We used my mom’s tried-and-true oil pastry pie crust recipe, which gives you that perfect light, flakey crust. These little pie dishes are perfect, because otherwise, I always end up with a ton of pie left over, and of course, I feel obligated to eat it – waste not, want not, right? 🙂Pin It
First jam of the season! I grow my own strawberries and rhubarb, but production is still low, so I bought the rhubarb at the Portland Farmer’s Market this weekend, and used strawberries I’d frozen from previous harvests.
There are many different variations on this kind of jam, and lots of decisions to make – how much sugar (if any)? What kind of pectin (if any)? What ratio of strawberries to rhubarb? Here’s what I did:
2.25 pounds of rhubarb, chopped fine and cooked down (makes about 3 1/2 cups)
5 1/2 cups strawberries (defrosted and mashed with a potato masher)
5 1/3 tlb Ball low/no sugar pectin
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
I combined the rhubarb, strawberries, and water in a large pot, then slowly added in the pectin; brought the mixture to a full rolling boil that couldn’t be stirred down; reduced the heat and added in the sugar; brought it back to a hard boil for exactly one minute; and then ladled it into half pint jars and hot bath canned it for 10 minutes.
I got 10 half pint jars out of one batch, and I like the taste and texture – not too thick, not too sweet. The rhubarb definitely adds a little tartness – just a little zing – without hurting the strawberry flavor. I’m a nervous “jammer” because I always worry that it won’t set up, or the jars won’t seal, and then it’s been a lot of work for nothing, but so far, my odds have been pretty good.
This is going to be a big jamming season – I didn’t put up any last year because I had so many jars in my pantry, but we’ve worked it down to almost nothing, so we have plans for raspberries, marionberries, blackberries, and maybe some fun combinations with blueberries, apricots, and peaches, as well.Pin It
Two chocolate chip cookies, sandwiched together with frosting – spread more toward the front and squeeze the backs together, to give the impression of an open mouth – roll the front in sprinkles, put two dollops on top and add M&Ms – and you have monster cookies!Pin It