Gingerbread Friends

Gingerbread Men Friends? I’m being politically correct; you can’t just call them gingerbread men when some of them are obviously…not men. Right? So these little boys and girls are my buddies, especially since some of them are bearing gifts of chocolate and booze – and who doesn’t love a friend who brings you presents like that?


Gingerbread couple bearing booze

The cookies are really easy to make, unless you are trying to make them hold their arms out straight. I could describe all of my failed attempts, but I’ll just cut to the chase. Two methods worked for me:  propping their little arms up with foil as they baked, or amputating their arms right from the get-go, and then gluing them back on with royal icing as they were decorated.

Little foil splints to hold his arms out.

Little foil splints to hold his arms in place.

Surgical option.

Surgical option.

Alternatively, you can cut cute little shapes out of dough (gifts, stars, drums, candy canes) and wrap the gingerbread friend’s arms around it before baking. Kids would get really creative with this!



Three amigos.

Three amigos.

Or…make them the traditional way, of course.

Here’s the recipe I used. For my second batch I used half shortening, which made the dough more stable. You can use all butter if you prefer, but it might spread a tiny bit.

Gingerbread Friends
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Author:
I can't tell you how many this will make - it depends on the size of your cutters. But it's a pretty generous recipe.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ROYAL ICING:
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (found with cake decorating supplies)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (I use clear vanilla for the whitest possible icing.)
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • FOR DECORATING: melted chocolate, sprinkles, colored sugar, gold dust.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  2. Add egg and molasses and beat well. The batter should lighten in color.
  3. Add baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the flour, beating well. Make sure all of the flour is well incorporated.
  5. Place dough in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
  6. Heat oven to 375 F.
  7. Roll dough approximately ¼-inch thick between sheets of parchment.
  8. Cut out shapes and place on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you want them.
  9. Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and cool cookies completely before decorating.
  10. To make royal icing, combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. If you have a stand mixer, I recommend you use it, with the whisk attachment.
  11. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the water, beating continuously. Beat on medium high for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to achieve the right thickness for piping.
  12. Place in a pastry bag with a small writing tip and pipe directly onto the cookies. A small amount can be thinned if you want to brush it on with a paintbrush. (Pink cheeks, clothing, etc.)

 

Yes, yes, I forgot the baking powder. Pfffft.

Yes, yes, I forgot the baking powder. Pfffft.

Cutting out the shapes.

Cutting out the shapes.

Occasionally you'll get a butt-ugly one like this! Makes me laugh.

Occasionally you’ll get a butt-ugly one like this! Makes me laugh.



gingerbread friends in a row

Do you give out plates of cookies and candy at Christmas? If so, why don’t you customize a gingerbread cookie with the recipient’s name for that personal touch? Personalized cookies would also be the perfect place card at a holiday meal!

I hope you’ll use your imagination and find some other fun ways of decorating your cookies. Just…lock them up well at night so they don’t wander. (I was going to insert a picture here from “Gingerdead Man”, but it was just too creepy. And I don’t want the copyright police breathing down my back.)

Lorinda

Acorn Dinner Rolls

 



Acorn Rolls horiz with watermarkEvery Thanksgiving I have the same problem: there’s just never enough room for all of the platters and bowls on the dining room table. Usually, the centerpiece has to be removed to make way for a bowl of mashed potatoes. Instead of removing it, here’s a way to have your centerpiece and eat it too!

Cornucopia and acorns vertical 3 watermark

This post is actually about the acorn rolls, but I’ll also give you instructions below for the cornucopia, which can be made up to a week ahead of time and frozen.

The acorn rolls are decorative and delicious! The crushed graham crackers in the dough give them just a hint of sweetness and add a delicate flavor.



two acorns close watermark

 

Acorn Dinner Rolls
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Author:
Makes approximately 2 dozen acorn rolls, depending on the size you choose. If you are hoping to use the leftovers for sandwiches, skip the fancy-shmancy acorns and just roll the dough into small balls and bake them close together in a large, greased baking pan!
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 package graham crackers, (9 full cracker sheets) coarsely crushed
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered nondairy creamer (This is optional, but makes a super fluffy roll.)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 5-6 cups bread flour
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa (egg wash)
  • Small stick pretzels or raw almonds cut into slivers
Instructions
  1. Place warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed graham crackers, butter, creamer, salt, and 3 cups bread flour. Mix well.
  3. Stir in 2 additional cups of flour. If you are using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. If the dough is not coming cleanly away from the bowl, add additional flour a little at a time. Dough should be soft but not sticky. If you are kneading by hand, drop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary to achieve a soft, elastic dough.
  4. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning it several times to coat the dough.
  5. Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in a warm location - about 1 hour.
  6. Lightly grease (or spray with an oil/flour baking spray) 2 12-cavity cupcake pans.
  7. Remove ⅔ of the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Punch down the remaining dough, cover, and set aside.
  8. Divide the dough on the floured surface into 24 equal pieces. Shape into balls. Set in prepared cupcake pans and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
  9. Heat oven to 375 F.
  10. After the 45 minutes is up, roll out the dough in the bowl, keeping it very thin - ¼-inch or less. Using a small biscuit cutter or wine glass, cut out 24 circles. They should be a little wider than the balls of dough in the cupcake pan.
  11. Brush the top of each ball with a small amount of egg wash.
  12. Place one circle at a time into the palm of your hand and, using the flat side of a knife or an onion holder, press lines in 2 or 3 directions, similar to a peanut butter cookie.
  13. Brush with egg wash and set it on one of the balls of dough in the pan. Poke a small piece of slivered almond into the top for a stem. (If you are using pretzels, poke them into the top of each acorn after they are baked.) Repeat.
  14. Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the acorn tops are a rich brown.
  15. Cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each acorn out to cool.
  16. If you want to re-warm the rolls, place them in a large cake pan, cover them loosely with foil, and heat at 300 for 5-10 minutes.

Hints:

  • There’s no need to make a mess crushing the crackers. Just smash the package against the counter a few times. The chunks will dissolve in the yeast mixture.
  • Make sure the acorn tops are a little bigger across than the width of the balls in the pan. If they’re too small they’ll look like a hat perched on a head – not what you want.
  • If you want darker tops, instead of adding the cocoa to the egg wash, knead it into the smaller piece of dough before covering it and setting it aside. Don’t worry if the cocoa isn’t completely worked in – just do your best. Add a little extra cocoa if you’d like. Then just use the egg and water as an egg wash.
  • I had fairly good luck pressing the acorn top design into the rolled dough with a potato masher before cutting out the circles. This might be easier for you. But in the the end, I preferred the way they looked when I used an onion holder to press the design on each piece.
Add coarsely crushed graham crackers.

Add coarsely crushed graham crackers.

Separate into 24 pieces and roll into balls.

Separate into 24 pieces and roll into balls.

Place balls of dough into prepared cupcake pans.

Place balls of dough into prepared cupcake pans.

Add texture by using an onion holder. The flat side of a knife would work too.

Add texture by using an onion holder. The flat side of a knife would work too.

Acorn, ready to bake.

Acorn, ready to bake.

Cutting acorn caps. (Cocoa was added to dough here. See Hints.)

Cutting acorn caps. (Cocoa was added to dough here. See Hints.)

The finished acorns would look beautiful on a platter with little sprigs of rosemary, but if you have the time and inclination, here are instructions for the cornucopia. It’s actually fairly easy to make! You will need foil and parchment paper to create a sculpture for the bread to wrap around.

BREAD CORNUCOPIA

2½ cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter
6 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked together to make an egg wash.

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir sugar into warm water and then stir in the yeast. Let sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  • Add butter, 3 cups flour and the salt and beat for 1 minute.
  • Add 2 cups flour and mix together well. Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as necessary until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. If you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, drop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.
  • Place the dough into a large greased bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour.
  • While dough is rising, form a cornucopia shape out of foil, crumpling the foil together to make a solid mass. The one pictured in this blog was about 15 inches from end to end. It doesn’t have to be too dense – it just can’t be hollow because it has to hold up to the weight of the dough. When you have the correct shape, wrap it with a piece of parchment, securing it with a staple or piece of masking tape.
  • Heat oven to 375 F.
  • Punch down dough and roll out into a rectangle approximately 12 inches by 18 inches. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut 3/4-inch strips lengthwise.
  • Very lightly grease the center of a baking sheet.
  • Working over the baking sheet, start at the bottom of the cornucopia, near the large end, and begin wrapping strips of dough around and around the cornucopia. The dough will be very soft, and will stretch when you pick it up, which is okay. Keep an even pressure; don’t pull the dough, but don’t wrap so loosely that it sags. When you add a piece of dough, pinch it together with the end of the previous piece to keep a continuous coil. You will have to hold the cornucopia up with one hand while you wind the dough with the other. Small spaces between strips is fine; the bread will rise while cooking and fill them in. Place cornucopia on baking sheet.
  • Twist two strips together and place the “braid” around the large opening. This will reinforce the cornucopia and add a decorative touch.
  • Cut small leaves, stems, vines, and even small acorns and place them artistically on the cornucopia, using a little egg wash to make them stick.
  • Brush the entire cornucopia (except the bottom) with egg wash.
  • Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until rich golden brown.
  • Allow the cornucopia to cool completely on a rack. When completely cool, gently pull the foil and parchment out. You might be able to pull it out in one piece, or you might have to start with the foil, pulling it out in pieces, and then pull the parchment out last. Be patient and take your time.
  • It will be sturdier if you let it dry on the counter for a day or two before using, but it may be used right away if you prefer. You can also wrap and freeze it until needed.
Dough coming cleanly away from sides of bowl.

Dough coming cleanly away from sides of bowl.

The dough is doubled (at least!)

The dough is doubled (at least!)

Go ahead - sculpt a cornucopia out of foil!

Go ahead – sculpt a cornucopia out of foil!

Cover the foil with parchment.

Cover the foil with parchment.

Cut rolled dough into strips.

Cut rolled dough into strips.

Wrap strips around cone.

Wrap strips around cone.

Twist two strips together and wrap around opening.

Twist two strips together and wrap around opening.

Add pretty details and brush with egg wash.

Add pretty details and brush with egg wash.

baked and cooled with foil removed


Cornucopia and acorns vertical shows horn watermarked
thanksgiving collage

This recipe was created for a series called “From Our Thanksgiving Table to Yours” – a collection of Thanksgiving recipes by a wild and crazy group of bloggers who live to eat. My post was the last of the group, so I’ll leave you with links to their recipes in case you’ve missed any of them. We’d like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Lorinda

 

From Tampa Cake Girl: Sweet Potato Soufflé.

From Hun, What’s For Dinner?: Orange Scented Double Layer Pecan Pie.

From Crumbs in My Mustachio: Bacon Cheese and Green Onion Cornbread.

From Cooking From a SAHM: Knock Your Socks Off Mashed Potatoes.

From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Cheddar Pecan Dip.

Fly on the Wall – Novembrrrr

Fly on the Wall

If you’re a fly on the wall in my home this month, you’ve come to the right place. It might be 5 degrees outside, but as usual The Man is feeding the woodburning stove like it’s a starving whale, and it’s warm and cozy in here. Like…shorts and tank top warm. So hang out for a while and see what’s happening around here, and then check out the links below to see what’s going on in 14 other bloggers’ homes!

fly1gifcroppedMy older sisters came for a visit – a cause for much excitement since my oldest sister Khym hadn’t been here before and I was tickled they were both coming. They drove six hours to get here…which is a pretty big effort!

My 60th birthday is coming up in a couple of months, and since no one in their right mind would drive here in the winter, they brought lots of fun little treats to celebrate early. Fun gourmet goodies, crafty stuff, music. Loved it! They also brought SLIDES! You know (or maybe you’re young and don’t know) old-time photographs in little squares of cardboard that are projected on a screen. Or bumpy wall. I could probably write a complete blog on our attempts to make the slide projector work,  but in the end we got to see ourselves as children and teenagers. Good times!clark girls

The running joke was yelling “GET IN MAH BELLEH” in a deep voice every time I popped up on the screen, because I was SO fat. And my wonky eye and big tongue got a whole lot of laughs too. Damn, I was a mess.

We had fun with sister Jenny, who is officially known as the “Crazy Chicken Lady” now. We watched videos of her chickens, and laughed at her because she lets one sleep in her bed! Honest, it’s true!crazy chicken lady

And just because we couldn’t resist, while she was out in the dark on our front sidewalk, The Man went behind the house and blew on one of his predator calls. We heard her footsteps running for the porch, and she came skidding into the front door.

Now…if you came into the house after hearing something like that and saw your sisters laughing hysterically, wouldn’t you guess you’d been punked? Nope. She was insistent she’d heard something creepy. We laughed ’til we cried, and she finally figured it out. Snort.

Jenny also likes ice cream. A lot.

The Man: “The ice cream is on the counter”
Jenny: “Great. I will help myself immediately so there’s enough for me.”

Love those girls!

fly1gifcropped

Oh, and one more sister story…and this one’s a doozy! They called on their way home, very excited, to tell us they’d seen a moose. In fact, not just one moose, but several. Apparently they were very skinny, but I said that was normal – they weren’t big and fat like cows, more muscle than fat. It didn’t even occur to me to question it, even after they said there was a mama and babies. Kind of the wrong time of year for that.

When the picture was posted on Facebook my son took one look at it and started laughing. They’d driven by a place that creates metal sculptures. Skinny??? Um, yeah…like maybe 1/2-inch thick. We all got a kick out of that, even the sisters.moose

Two days later, my son saw a huge bull moose. He described it to me and added “and it wasn’t even cut out of sheet metal”.

fly1gifcroppedSpeaking of game…last month in my Fly on the Wall post I described the disgusting elk head that was putrifying and stinking to high heaven in our backyard. I complained so vociferously that The Man went out there to cut the remaining dead crud from the skull so he could bleach it to hang in the Man Cave.

Unfortunately, he nicked himself with the knife. Do you have any idea how quickly that kind of bacteria turns into blood poisoning? At the speed of light, my friends.

After a week of pain, suffering, whining, Urgent Care, and a follow up at our doctor’s office, (and some really impressive peeling of his skin) the red line is gone and The Man is back to normal. The $75 that he was saving by cleaning the skull himself instead of letting the taxidermist do it ended up costing us a hell of a lot more.

Shaking my head. Just…………..shaking my head.

fly1gifcroppedHe’s pretty pumped up this year, though. He got his elk and a deer. He didn’t manage to shoot a bear for the trifecta, but he has been pounding his chest pretty thoroughly. Every time he starts a sentence with “So, there I was…” we all run from the room. Example:

The Man: “So, there I was. It was icy cold when I saw the deer in the distance.”
Me: “Why don’t you write a book so you can have it published and no one will buy it.”

He wants us to call him “The Legend” now. I know his gloating is (sort of) in jest, but I still might have to have a special shirt made for him for Christmas. shirts for Russ

fly1gifcroppedWe all got our deer this year. I’ve decided this is the last time I’ll do it, but we have lots of meat in the freezer…a great feeling. I don’t have any objections to hunting per se; we use every bit of that meat. But I agonize over it when it is me who is doing the dastardly deed, so I’m leaving it up the guys from now on.  Still, he was a beauty!lori and deer 2014

fly1gifcropped

halloween 2014

My Sweet Grands

My daughter posted this status: “Drinking coffee and swearing at the sewing machine. More like my mama every day, and proud of it!!” Yep. She probably learned more cuss words watching me try to sew than she did from her brothers. And yet…we keep trying. :) Little Mack’s “Oompa Loompa” costume was worth the angst though!
halloween 2014 b

fly1gifcropped

I was feeling indulgent, and hit the kitchen on a mission. The resulting pastry was enough to put each of us into a sugar coma. I’m going to let the picture do the talking; the link is here for Pumpkin Cronuts.
Pumpkin cronuts with coffee watermarked

fly1gifcropped

The dogs are shedding. After pulling dog hair out of my mouth twice during the night, I mentioned that the sheets needed to be changed. Walking into the bedroom I see that the sheets have been pulled and left in a wad on the bed. A little later, this conversation occurred:

The Man:  “Did you see I stripped the sheets for you?”
Me: (After a pause to think about the “for you” part of his question) “Um. Thank you. Do you mean for US?”
The Man: “For us.”
I started pulling the pillow cases off the pillows.
The Man: “Oh, you want to wash the pillowcases too?”
Me, dumbfounded: “One usually does wash the pillowcases along with the sheets.”

I cannot die. Ever.  He wouldn’t survive.

fly1gifcroppedLord Voldemort: “Much like the female orgasm, the G-spot is a myth.”

No one can question why he’s still single.

fly1gifcroppedI spent 6 glorious days visiting “the coast”, which means Seattle. I bounced from house to house freeloading off of friends from my past, and had a blast with 4 bloggers whom I’d never met. Ate too much, drank too much, spent too much, drove too much, and slept too little. All in all, a perfect trip! I’d add some funny stories, but you know….what happens on the coast stays on the coast!

 

collage trip to seattleNow I think I’m ready to hunker down for the winter!

fly1gifcropped

Now buzz over to these great blogs – these ladies are seriously FUNNY!
Lorinda

Baking In a Tornado
Stacy Sews and Schools
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Momisodes
Follow Me Home
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Spatulas on Parade
Someone Else’s Genius
Juicebox Confession
Go Mamma O
Battered Hope

Pumpkin Cronuts

With cold weather comes comfort foods, and doughnuts are right at the top of my list…as are croissants. Since I’m also in the middle of my annual pumpkin frenzy, it only made sense to combine the three items to create a batch of Pumpkin Cronuts.


Pumpkin cronuts with coffee watermarked
I don’t want to scare you away, but I have to admit that these are a lot of work. The good news is, it can all be spread out over a couple of days, so there won’t be any last-minute panic at all. The goal is to fry the cronuts on the same day you plan to serve them, and a little careful planning will make this a slam dunk.

On the day before you plan to serve them, begin making the dough. Don’t start this late in the evening – give yourself at least 4 hours. The dough is rolled and folded, then chilled. Rolled, folded, chilled. Repeat. It isn’t hard, honest. Every forty-five minutes you roll and fold…takes less than 5 minutes.

Croissants require dedication and patience, but there is truly nothing difficult about them.

I was worried about adding pumpkin to my dough, afraid it would ruin the flaky layers, but it worked very well. I made a few croissants out of the dough just out of curiosity, and though they weren’t quite as crispy as usual, there were no complaints from the menfolk, so I call that a win.

If you do nothing but make the cronuts and roll them in cinnamon sugar, you’ll probably still be thrilled with them. As far as I’m concerned, the filling and icing are optional. Personally, I prefer them without filling, but I get outvoted.

Don’t be afraid to customize these goodies. If you don’t like pastry cream, fill the cronuts with pudding – or even whipped cream, if they will be served promptly. For a lighter icing (my recipe is rich and buttery) try dipping the tops in melted white chocolate, or use a simple milk/powdered sugar glaze. Or…leave them plain!

Pumpkin Cronuts without filling or icing...just cinnamon sugar.

Pumpkin Cronuts without filling or icing…just cinnamon sugar.

The important part of this post is the cronut recipe itself, and since I can only create one printable recipe per post, I’ll add the filling and icing recipes below.

Pumpkin Cronuts
Print
Author:
Makes 12-15 pastries, depending on the size of your cutter. And lots of yummy "cronut holes".
Ingredients
  • 1 cup very warm milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
  • Peanut oil for frying (at least ½ gallon)
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar, placed in shallow bowl
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer works best), combine the warm milk and yeast. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in the pumpkin, 1 tablespoon butter, vanilla, sugar, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat well.
  3. Add 2 additional cups of flour and allow the machine to knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough should be soft, but it should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. If it is sticking, add as much of the remaining ½ cup flour as necessary. (If kneading by hand, after stirring in the 2 cups of flour, drop the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead for 6 minutes.)
  4. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until double - about 1 hour.
  5. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few times, pat it into a rectangular shape, and place the dough in a heavy plastic zipper bag (or wrap in plastic) and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove the 2 sticks of butter from the refrigerator. Working with one stick at a time, place it between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to 6½ inches by 4 inches. To get straight edges you will need to trim the sides with a spatula or knife, spreading the excess back over the butter as you go. Don't worry - just trim it and smoosh it where it needs to go! Wrap each piece in parchment and put them back in the refrigerator to chill for ½ hour.
  7. When the butter has chilled, remove the dough (hang on to that bag...you'll need it again) and roll the dough out to 12 inches by 8 inches, with the long side facing you.
  8. Place one piece of chilled butter directly in the center, with the short side facing you.Fold the right side of the dough over the butter and press the dough around it gently.
  9. Place the other piece of chilled butter on the dough directly above the other piece of butter. Fold the left side of the dough over the top of the butter and press and pinch the dough all the way around to seal it.
  10. Gently roll the dough out to measure 12 inches by 8 inches with the long side facing you. Fold the right side over one third, and the left side over the right side. The open edge should be on the right, like a book. Put the dough back in the bag and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  11. After 45 minutes, remove the dough. Roll dough out to measure 12 inches by 8 inches, with the long side facing you. Fold the right side over one third, and the left side over the right side. Return to the bag and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  12. Repeat one more time. Refrigerate until ready to use. (You may use right away, but the dough will have better flavor if you let it rest overnight.)
  13. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll dough to measure 12 inches by 8 inches, with the long side facing you. Fold the right side over one third, and the left side over the right side. Roll dough out to measure about ½-inch thick. (3/4-inch if you want very tall cronuts.) Cut with a round biscuit cutter, being careful not to twist the cutter. Cut straight down and lift straight up. If you have a doughnut cutter, use that! Otherwise, cut the center out with a the cap from a soda bottle or a cannoli form. (The centers make delicious "cronut holes".) Keep the shapes as close together as possible, because any cronuts made with re-rolled dough will be a little lopsided and won't rise as well.
  14. Cover the cronuts with a light towel and allow them to rise for at least an hour. They won't double, but you should see a difference.
  15. In a large, tall saucepan, heat approximately 3 inches of oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 370 F. Drop a few cronuts in at a time, giving them plenty of room to move around. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, until a rich golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
  16. While the next batch is cooking, roll the warm cronuts in cinnamon sugar.
  17. Watch the temperature of your oil closely, as it can change quickly. You may have to adjust the heat or remove the pan from the burner briefly if it gets too hot. If your oil is too cool the cronuts will soak up the oil and be greasy. If it is too hot, the outside will cook and the inside will be doughy. 160-170 F works perfectly.
  18. Once all of the cronuts are cooled, poke two holes with a wooden skewer or chopstick on opposite sides of the pastry, half way up the side. Guide the skewer to the left and the right without poking through, and then pipe pastry cream into each hole with a pastry bag and bismark tip or medium round tube tip, pointing it left and then right and repeating on the opposite side.
  19. Once filled, dip the top in icing, glaze or melted white chocolate if desired.

See this dough? Too sticky! Add a little more flour.

See this dough? Too sticky! Add a little more flour.

Trim the butter to size.

Trim the butter to size.

Spread the trimmings evenly over the top.

Spread the trimmings evenly over the top.

Roll and measure the dough.

Roll and measure the dough.

Place one piece of butter in center of dough.

Place one piece of butter in center of dough.

Fold right side over and cover with 2nd piece of butter. Then fold left over butter and seal.

Fold right side over and cover with 2nd piece of butter. Then fold left over butter and seal.

Roll and cut.

Roll and cut.

Cutting the center holes.

Cutting the center holes.

Fry them for 1 minute on each side

Fry them for 1 minute on each side

Poking a channel for the filling to follow.

Poking a channel for the filling to follow.

Add filling.

Add filling.



Pumpkin cronuts horiz with watermark

PASTRY CREAM:
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, water, and egg yolks. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the half & half to a simmer. It should be hot and bubbly, but not boiling.
  3. Pour half of the hot half & half into the bowl with the cornstarch mixture, whisking well.  Pour the mixture in the bowl back into the pan, whisking.
  4. Whisking continuously, continue to cook the pastry cream until it thickens – approximately 2 minutes. Whisk briskly to remove any lumps, and remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Cover and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. If you are making the cream ahead, keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  5. If the cream is too thick to pipe into the cronuts, try whisking it briefly. If necessary, add a small amount of milk.
    Whisk half & half into cornstarch mixture

    Whisk half & half into cornstarch mixture

    ...then return it to the pan and whisk away!

    …then return it to the pan and whisk away!

 

ICING:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the brown sugar, white sugar, milk, and butter to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook at a low boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and add vanilla, powdered sugar, and chocolate chips. Whisk vigorously until smooth.
  3. Adjust to dipping consistency by adding additional milk or powdered sugar, if necessary. May be reheated slowly.

So…have I scared you off? I know it may look overwhelming, but if you just take the directions one step at a time you can DO this!  I have the shortest attention span in the whole world and I can do it…and so can you. Don’t be shy! Please leave me a photo of your masterpieces; I’d love to see them!

Lorinda

Maple Nut Cupcakes



038
If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I’m a maple addict. I fell in love with maple everything when I was very young, and my obsession hasn’t abated with age. Today I indulged myself in the kitchen, and used almost an entire bottle of my beloved Mapleine. May I just say it smelled like heaven in here?

Not only did I make Maple Nut Cupcakes, I made maple crumbles and hard candy maple leaves for decoration. The cupcakes delighted me, because they came out extremely light and fluffy. The crumble was just as I expected, too. The leaves – those were a bit of a challenge. I know what NOT to do now, and can steer you in the right direction if you want to try making them.

If you like to lick cake beaters, you are going to love this batter. Seriously. It tastes just like maple nut ice cream, and is irresistible.

I used cream cheese frosting for these cupcakes, adding Mapleine (my favorite maple flavoring) to about a half cup of it for painting stripes in my pastry bag…giving the frosting some pretty brown accents when piped.

This recipe makes at least 36 cupcakes – maybe a few more. I have a tendency to fill my cupcake liners too full, giving my cupcakes that dreaded “muffin top” look. If you are more restrained, you’ll probably get 40 much more attractive cupcakes. The folded in egg whites are what make the cakes so light and tender, but also a little more delicate, so I recommend that you walk gently and avoid slamming doors while they are baking, just as a preventive measure.

Maple Nut Cupcakes
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Author:
Makes 36-40
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring (more if you want a stronger maple flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3¼ cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar together until very light.
  3. Separate eggs. Put whites in a small bowl and set aside. Add egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Add maple flavoring and vanilla and beat well.
  5. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice.
  6. Combine the sour cream and milk. Stir well, but don't worry about getting all of the lumps out.
  7. Add approximately ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the batter and stir until combined. Add ⅓ of the sour cream/milk mixture and stir until combined. Repeat until all has been added and mixed.
  8. Stir in the walnuts.
  9. Beat the egg whites until foamy and slightly thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter.
  10. Spoon into lined cupcake pans, approximately ⅔ full.
  11. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  12. Cool in the pans on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pans, letting the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

 
Ingredients

Ingredients

Cream butter and sugar together

Cream butter and sugar together

Add egg yolks and flavorings

Add egg yolks and flavorings

Stir in walnuts

Stir in walnuts

Fold in egg whites

Fold in egg whites

Fill liners 2/3 full

Fill liners 2/3 full


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds powdered sugar, divided (about 7 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and creamy.
Add salt, and gradually add 6 cups of powdered sugar, beating well.
Slowly add whipping cream, beating well for 1 minute.
Add additional powdered sugar if needed for desired piping texture.

 



maple nut cupcakes vertical

To make the Maple Crumble, all you need is a candy thermometer and pure maple syrup. I used Grade B organic syrup from Trader Joe’s for two reasons:

  1. Grade B maple syrup actually has a stronger maple flavor, which is a good thing in my book!
  2. My sister had just given me a bottle, so I didn’t have to go to town and buy some.

The recipe for making crumble is the same one you would use to make those lovely little Vermont maple candies that come out during the holidays. The pure-sugar-melt-in-your-mouth candies that many of us have overindulged in, making ourselves sick even after our parents warned us not to eat more than one or we’d be sorry. Whew. I feel better.

To make crumbles, you simply stir the mixture a little longer than you would if you were pouring it into molds. Spread out on a lightly buttered cookie sheet, it dries quickly and can be crumbled easily with your fingers. If you have any left over, it would be wonderful on hot cereal or mixed into a streusel topping for muffins!

MAPLE CRUMBLES:
1 cup pure Grade B maple syrup (don’t try using regular syrup – it won’t work!)

  • Lightly coat a baking sheet with butter.
  • Pour syrup into medium sauce pan (to give it room to foam) and turn heat between medium and medium-high.
  • Cook, stirring gently, until it reaches the soft ball stage – 235 F.
    Remove from heat immediately and allow the mixture to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Spread onto the prepared pan. If it is too thick to spread evenly, cover with a piece of foil and press to flatten.
  • When dry and firm, crumble it with your fingers and keep in a airtight container until ready to use.

Syrup is at soft ball stage.

Syrup is at soft ball stage.

If too thick, cover with foil and press to flatten.

If too thick, cover with foil and press to flatten.

 



maple nut cupcakesHard candy leaves would have been easy if I’d had hard candy molds, but I had to improvise, using a small maple leaf cookie cutter. The recipe made a little more than I expected, so my candy was thicker than it should have been, making it hard to form the leaves. So…I learned how to get around that, and am passing it on to you.

You’ll need a small leaf-shaped cookie cutter, a large baking sheet with sides (think jelly roll pan) and a candy thermometer.

This recipe was slightly revised from a Taste of Home recipe.

HARD MAPLE CANDY
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons Mapleine (or other maple flavoring)
a stick of butter for greasing the cookie cutter

  • Butter a large baking sheet with sides.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Turn your burner to a temperature between medium and medium-high. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the candy thermometer reads 300 F. Immediately remove from heat.
  • When the bubbles have settled a bit, add maple flavoring. Stir well and pour into pan. Lift and drop pan several times to spread the candy. You may have to help spread it with a metal spatula.
  • Watch the candy carefully. Once it is beginning to firm, but is not yet hard, press the cookie cutter lightly into butter and then into the candy. Butter the cutter for each leaf. Once all of the leaves have been cut, go back over them with the cutter to make sure they are still cut clear through.
  • Once the candy is hard, carefully punch out the leaves. The extra candy can be eaten in broken pieces or crushed as a decoration for cookies or pastries.
    Too thick! Pan was too small, but you get the idea, right?

    Too thick! Pan was too small, but you get the idea, right?

  • Hard candy maple leaves

    Hard candy maple leaves

The most important part of this post is the cake recipe. I loved eating mine without any frosting or decorations, which – with my sweet tooth – is saying a lot! Whether you use canned frosting, sprinkles from a jar, or jump through all the hoops above, what really matters is that cake. I think I’m in love!

Lorinda

 

Macadamia Nut Eyeballs

candy round upThere’s always something fun cooking with this crazy group of bloggers I hang out with. This month we’re challenging ourselves with Halloween candy. That could be taken two different directions – a recipe made with Halloween candy OR homemade Halloween candy. I opted for making my own, because…well…what’s creepier than eating eyeballs?

eyeballs on leaf watermark
These are so simple. A softened caramel is wrapped around a macadamia nut (you could use hazelnuts if you prefer) and then dipped in dark chocolate and white chocolate. A touch of red food coloring for blood vessels, and they’re ready to pile in a bowl for brave souls to grab.

Here’s what you’ll need:
ingredients

This recipe gives you more than enough chocolate for dipping, because the chocolate needs to be deep enough for smooth results. If it thickens as you work, simply microwave it for 10 seconds and stir.

Macadamia Nut Eyeballs
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Author:
12 chewy, crunchy, melty eyeballs...perfect to eat as-is or to decorate cupcakes or cookies.
Ingredients
  • 12 macadamia nuts
  • 12 caramels
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • 12 dark brown mini M&Ms, or chocolate chips
  • red food coloring for adding blood vessels to finished eyeballs
Instructions
  1. Place 4 unwrapped caramels at a time on a small plate and microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
  2. Wrap one softened caramel at a time around a macadamia nut and roll in your hands to smooth into a round ball. Repeat until all nuts are covered.
  3. In a small bowl or a coffee mug (make sure the container is completely dry), melt the dark chocolate. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Repeat at 15 second intervals until chocolate is thoroughly melted. You may thin the chocolate by adding 1 teaspoon of shortening if desired.
  4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  5. Using a fork or a special chocolate dipping tool, dip each ball in the chocolate. Tap well on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide the ball onto the waxed paper. A toothpick can be useful to help slide the ball from the fork.
  6. Add a dark brown mini M&M or chocolate chip (pointy side down) to the top of each ball for a "pupil". For a really creepy look, use a red mini M&M.
  7. When all of the balls have been coated, move the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.
  8. Melt the white chocolate in a clean, dry bowl or mug using the same method for melting the dark chocolate. Stir until just barely warm; if it is too warm it will melt the dark chocolate when dipping.
  9. Using a fork or chocolate dipper, dip each ball quickly in the white chocolate, almost to the top. This will leave a dark "iris" and the M&M "pupil" showing. Tap well and carefully slide the eyeball onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate until completely firm.
  10. With a toothpick dipped in red food coloring, make thin lines on the white part of the eyeball, creating blood vessels. Allow the food coloring to dry before serving.
  11. Enjoy!

 

 

Dip it in dark chocolate.

Dip it in dark chocolate.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method. (See “Note” below.)

A variation on the theme. ..red pupils!

A variation on the theme. ..red pupils!



eyeballs watermark

NOTE: I have issues with dipping, lacking the coordination to do it without a great deal of sighing and swearing. So…instead of putting the M&M on the chocolate when it’s warm, I used a toothpick stuck where the “pupil” would eventually go to help guide the ball in and out of the white chocolate, a two-handed method. Then, once the completed eyeball was firm, I used a small paring knife to carve out a spot for the M&M. So…in case you don’t have the dipping knack either, that’s an alternate method. Just sayin’.

The alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

My alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

These little guys are awfully good. Certainly much better than they look! As long as you’re going to the trouble of making them, I’d make as many as you have the patience for. Trust me – they disappear quickly!

Here are the other fun Halloween candy recipes this group has created.

Tampa Cake Girl’s Snickers Overload Cheesecake.

Hun, What’s For Dinner’s No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops.

Moore or Less Cooking Blog’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Popcorn Balls.

Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom’s Spider Crunch Bites.

Happy Halloween!
Lorinda

Fly on the Wall – Ahhhhhhctober Edition

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 13 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.fly1gifcropped

Ahhhhhhhhhhh…finally! It’s October and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I still have some odds and ends to finish up – chores to be done before the snow flies – but things are slowing down and I’m able to spend more time playing in the kitchen. (Happy dance!)

I’ve baked some fall treats, much to The Man’s great satisfaction (garden and harvest make for a disappointing lack of “goodies”) but here’s something I’ve never made before! The smell of cinnamon, molasses, and oats was heavenly. Here’s what it looked like before I added the eggs, coconut oil, and molasses:

Mixing it up by hand in the big blue roasting pan.

Mixing it up by hand in the big blue roasting pan.

Want a closer look??

Um....are those...worms?

Um….are those…worms?

Wait a minute. I think there might be a little extra protein in this mixture! Maybe it won’t be so obvious when it’s baked?

Eeeeuw, no, they're still there. Just a little toasty now.

Eeeeuw, no, they’re still there. Just a little toasty now.

That’s okay – the ladies have no objection to their homemade “Flock Block”

So spoiled.

So spoiled.

There are lots of recipes on the internet for Flock Blocks – a nice treat for the girls, especially in the winter when they’re stuck inside a lot and get bored. I pretty much winged my recipe, and it worked really well. They love it! If anyone’s interested, here’s how I did it.

Flock Block
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Author:
These flock blocks are a real treat for chickens. Don't be too generous with them though, or your girls won't eat their regular food. These aren't as hard as commercial flock blocks, and won't last as long, but you will feel good about the wholesome ingredients you use!
Ingredients
  • 4 cups scratch
  • 2 cups omega egg supplement
  • 4 cups 9 grain rolled cereal
  • 1 cup dried mealworms
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup crushed oyster shells
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil (or lard if you wish)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a very large pan, mix all ingredients through the cayenne pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, molasses, peanut butter, and coconut oil together until thoroughly combined. Add to dry ingredients.
  4. Stir well, using your hands.
  5. If you are using disposable foil pans, there is no need to grease the pans first. Simply press the mixture firmly into the pan. If you are using regular pans (bread pans, cake pans, pie pans, etc.) I advise spraying or greasing the pan first. Really pack the mixture down in the pan!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and let the blocks sit in the oven overnight.
  7. This makes 6-8 large blocks. Wrap and freeze any that won't be used right away.

 

Realistically, I can justify the expense and effort by considering it a “last meal” for some of them. I refuse to feed 20 chickens through the cold winter when I’m only getting four eggs a day…mostly from the 7 young hens. I’m afraid it’s time to do something about this situation. I’m heading to the coast to visit a Facebook friend I’ve never met before (squeee!) the first week of November, and hopefully when I come back there will be chicken in the freezer. That’s all I’m going to say about that.fly1gifcropped

October is when I get the urge to stock up for winter. I don’t know why; we’ve never been snowed in more than a week or two, but I can’t fight the compulsion to stock the shelves!

My neighbor and I went to Costco (a 3 hour round trip) and I spent an obscene amount of money on baking supplies. Ninety pounds of flour. Brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar. Chocolate chips. Nuts. Vanilla. Yeast. Cinnamon. Yep – I’m ready for holiday baking! Oh yes, and I got coffee and some basic supplies. My husband almost peed himself when he looked in the back of her truck and realized that everything back there was OURS. Know the best part? I forgot some stuff and she and I are making another trip next week. My list grows daily.

That neighbor, Pam, is so much fun! We think a lot alike, which is possibly a little scary. She had Starz added to her TV just so that I could come over and watch Outlander. I’ve read the series of books a bazillion times, and was dying to see the TV series. Bless her heart! It is even worth risking a mauling by her attack turkey to get to go watch it with her…and believe me, that bad boy wants a piece of me!!! He paces back and forth in front of the screen door, giving me the evil eye while I’m inside her house, then “escorts” me to my car. I hide behind her and get pretty creative with my defensive moves. Next time I go over I’ll take my camera so you can see what I mean!fly1gifcropped

Where we live, “open range” means keeping our fences mended and our gates closed during late summer to keep unwanted cows out of the yard and garden. If you live in an open range area, it is your responsibility to keep ranging animals off of your property. If you are in a closed range area, it’s the animal’s owners who are responsible. Oddly, the road in front of the house is the dividing line. The people across the way are in open range. We are not. But…cows don’t know this, so we keep our fence closed when cows are on the move.

Most of the time.

I honestly don’t mind it when the cows visit. They look great grazing on our hill, and make me wish we owned a few. But cows leave a lot of runny piles of poop everywhere, and because I leave the orchard gate open so the chickens can free range, the temptation to gnaw on the apple trees is just too much for them. The Man left the gate open and the cows came in and helped themselves to apples. I’d already picked all I wanted, but went to shoo them out of the orchard anyhow. Out of six cows, five of them “shooed”. The other one stood his (yes, this one was a young steer) ground.

Being the tough (cough cough) gal that I am, I picked up the hose and swung it his way a few times. He looked bemused.
He was not impressed.
Daisy and Otis had no intention of herding this guy out, so I picked up Daisy’s ball and lobbed it at the steer. For the record, I throw like a girl.
He was still not impressed.
Daisy did chase the ball as it flew in his general direction, but that just made him kick up his heels a bit.
He was most definitely not impressed, nor was he amused.
So I went towards him, swinging my arms and yelling. I stomped my feet.
He stomped his back and came towards me…not quite what I had in mind.

He won. Pffft. Those apple trees needed pruning anyhow.
cow eating apple2

It was dark when The Man got home, and apparently he didn’t understand my predicament.

Him: “Did you lock up the chickens?”
Me: “NO! There were cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the orchard gate?”
Me: Giving him the look. “NO! There were still cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the chicken door?”
Me: “What part of “there were cows in there” don’t you understand?!”

This from a man who is afraid to put his hand in the nesting box to get an egg if there is a chicken in there. Pffft.fly1gifcropped

Even though I know better (I’m sure these sites are gathering critical information from me like what my favorite color is and what genre of music makes me want to dance) I can’t stop playing those stupid quizzes on Facebook. I can tell you that I know almost all of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, my favorite decade is the ’80s, and my nickname is “Sunshine”. I suck at music trivia (unless it’s old country lyrics), identifying books by their last lines, and have forgotten a lot of the old “Friends” episodes. I’m terrible at anything that has to do with history. I’m warm, caring, and should have been a chef. There’s more…way too much more. I think I need an intervention!fly1gifcropped

In case you’re worried that I might run out of pumpkin for fall recipes, I can assure you…there are lots more where these came from!pumpkins

The funny striped pumpkins are called “Lady Godiva” because they have naked seeds. – no shells. They pop a little like popcorn in the oven and are delicious. The pumpkin itself isn’t really worth eating, but the chickens and deer love it, so it’s not wasted. I harvested about 20 of these babies…and I’m thrilled. Such a yummy, healthy snack!

Lady Godiva seeds.

Lady Godiva seeds.

fly1gifcropped

I’m very excited, because my sisters are coming to visit this weekend. One hasn’t been here in a couple of years, and the other has never seen the place. I warned them to leave their white gloves at home, but you know how that is, right? I have two days to get this place in shape. I’ve warned Lord Voldemort that if he comes this way he’ll be sleeping on a cot in the shop. We’re going to be looking at carousel after carousel of SLIDES. Slides from when we were young. And cute.  Sigh.  I should have lots of funny stories for you next month!fly1gifcropped

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In a Tornado
Stacy Sews and Schools
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Momisodes
Follow Me Home
Crumpets and Bollocks
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Spatulas on Parade
Someone Else’s Genius
Battered Hope

Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake



Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake 2 watermarkedI’m one of those rare people who look forward to summer’s end. During the summer my time is stretched to the max between the garden, the house, visitors, and the blog; the thought of being free to play in the kitchen again is just heaven – like a kid bursting out of the classroom on the last day of school!

Of course, adding to my joy is the satisfaction of baking and cooking hearty cold weather foods. Right now I have a big basket of apples in my kitchen, so I used one to make a rich, dense, finger-licking Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake.

I’ve never been one to sneak tastes of cake batter (cookie dough is a different story) but after one taste of this batter, I was like a little kid with those beaters. I’m willing to risk salmonella for that batter any day! Besides, I use eggs from our own chickens, and I trust my girls implicitly.

I was going to leave the cake plain, but at the last minute I added a simple drizzle of glaze. I was in a tearing rush and didn’t beat it well enough, so you will see tiny little powdered sugar lumps where they do NOT belong. I’m sure you’ll plan your time better than I and mix it better…right?Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake watermark

This recipe has been husband AND neighbor approved!

 

Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 cup oil (I used peanut oil)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup whiskey (or you could substitute apple juice)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apple (about 1 average size apple)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Set rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Sift together twice: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour mixture and toss it in a small bowl with the chopped apple. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the whiskey and vanilla and beat well.
  5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the buttermilk, adding one-third of each at a time. Beat on low with each addition, just until incorporated. Don't over beat!
  6. Fold in pecans and chopped apple.
  7. Grease and flour (or use a flour/oil combination spray like Baker's Joy) a bundt pan. Spoon batter evenly in pan an place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out to cool.
  10. This cake is delicious when served barely warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

To make the glaze, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons whiskey, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix together well. Slowly add milk until the glaze is the correct thickness for drizzling over the cake.

To make whipped cream to serve with the cake, beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla (clear vanilla if you want the cream to be white) and beat until stiff peaks form.

There is no turning back now, you know; it’s officially fall and all of us “Foodies” will be inundating you with pumpkin, apple, maple, and cranberry recipes! Oooooh…and doughnuts. Maybe pumpkin apple maple cranberry doughnuts….

Lorinda

Pretty as a Peach No-Bake Dessert

sept roundup

Each month I join a group of bloggers to bring you a series of themed recipes. This month we are saying goodbye to Summer fruits.

Summer is almost gone, and so are the luscious fruits I’ve been taking for granted. Berries, grapes, melons, peaches…I’ll miss them all this winter when we’re down to apples and oranges!

raspberriespeaches

For my last hurrah I made a no-bake dessert with berries in the bottom and peach slices around the sides. The filling is peaches, whipped cream, cream cheese, and sour cream…with a little Peach Schnapps. It’s good cold from the refrigerator, and a delightful treat when eaten frozen.


Peaches and Cream vertical2 watermark
So grab some peaches while they’re still ripe and luscious, and give this recipe a try. It’s not a slam-dunk recipe – you’ll have to put a little effort into it – but I can guarantee it will get lots of attention!


pretty as a peach slice watermark
You’ll need at least 4 large peaches for this dessert, and to really make it special, cover the bottom with raspberries or sliced strawberries before adding the filling. Non-dairy whipped topping may be substituted for the whipping cream – 4 cups for the filling, and 2 cups for decorating.

You’ll also need a springform pan (I used a 10-inch, but a 9-inch pan would be okay…it would take less peaches to go around the bottom and the filling would be higher) and enough time to allow the dessert to set completely.

Pretty as a Peach No-Bake Dessert
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Author:
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Puree:
  • ¼ cup Peach Schnapps (or substitute peach nectar)
  • 1 ¼ cup cold water, divided
  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups chopped fresh peaches
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries or sliced strawberries, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients. Press evenly into the bottom of a 10½ –inch springform pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or cup, combine Peach Schnapps and ¼ cup cold water. Sprinkle both packages of gelatin over the liquid and let it sit for 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile...
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup cold water, chopped peaches, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. With a slotted spoon, scoop peaches into a small bowl, reserving peach juice in pan.
  6. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot peach juice in pan, whisking until completely dissolved. Allow to cool.
  7. With an electric mixer, beat the cooked peaches into a puree, leaving some small chunks.
  8. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream, powdered sugar, peach puree, and cooled gelatin mixture and mix until combined. Chill until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  9. Whip the 3 cups of cream until it begins to thicken. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat until very thick. Reserve 2 cups of whipped cream for decorating, and gently stir the rest into the peach mixture.
  10. Cut 2 peaches into slices. Set along inside edge of the pan, round side up. If the slices are thin, you can balance a second layer of peaches on top of the first. If you are adding berries, place them in the bottom of the pan.
  11. Spoon filling into pan and smooth the top. Pick the pan up and drop it gently a few times to make sure there are no air pockets in the dessert.
  12. Pipe the remaining whipped cream onto the top. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. (Overnight is better.) Before serving, decorate with sliced peaches or berries.

 

Press the crust into pan

Press the crust into pan

Sprinkle gelatin on schnapps and water

Sprinkle gelatin on schnapps and water

Cook the peaches

Cook the peaches

Mash the peaches

Mash the peaches

Add peaches, one or two slices deep. (The 3rd "layer" is just a reflection.)

Add peaches, one or two slices deep. (The 3rd “layer” is just a reflection.)

Add filling

Add filling

Top with whipped cream. Add peaches before serving.

Top with whipped cream. Add peaches before serving.

That’s all there is to it! Savor these precious flavors now, and maybe pop a little extra fruit in the freezer for the dead of winter!

Lorinda

Fly on the Wall (stuck in squirrel mode)

Fly on the Wall

Welcome to our Fly on the Wall group post. Today 14 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house,and then check out the other houses too! Links to all of the crazy bloggers are at the bottom of this post.

fly1gifcropped

Summer is slipping past us quickly, which means frantic scrambling at our place. Our first frost meant complete panic, as I picked as much of the harvest as possible. I saved most of it, but the “light frost” turned into a “killing freeze” and anything I missed or didn’t have time to deal with was history. Here’s the sad proof:

Dead beans.

Dead beans.

Wait, did I say sad? I was so sick of picking beans, that I was actually relieved to see them die, DIE, DIE!!! Whew. I feel better.

fly1gifcropped

fall-yet
fly1gifcroppedDealing with the bounty means I haven’t posted a blog post since last month’s Fly on the Wall! And yet, I have been lucky enough to have understanding followers, because my Facebook page just hit 5,000 likes – which is incredibly exciting to me! I was trying to figure out what to write on the pumpkin and the pie for my photo. I had some help:

The Man: “Put 5,000 on the pumpkin and gracias (only he pronounced it “graw-shus” on the pie.”
Me: “Graw-shus? Maybe you need to go back to Spanish class.”
The Man: “I was just being fecalcetious.”
Oh.

Wooo HOOOO!

Wooo HOOOO!

fly1gifcroppedAs if the garden wasn’t enough to deal with, it was also hunting season. (Here’s where you’ll want to scroll waaaaay down the page if you’re anti-hunting or a vegetarian. Okay…I warned you!)

Let me set the stage here, okay? I love hunting season! We have a deal: I make lots of food and he leaves for 10 days or so. Sweet, huh? Except…he got an elk after just a few days. So not only did he come home early, he came home dragging a bazillion pounds of gory meat with him. While I’m thrilled to have meat security, it took us almost 2 days to cut and package the meat because (and though I say “we” I mean “he”) we cannot have any fat, gristle, or bone in our meat. That means each piece must be cut with surgical precision. All scraps are frozen for the dogs, so nothing is wasted, but my hands looked like prunes before we finished because I had to keep washing my hands, cutting boards, and knives to “start clean”. OCD much?

Do you remember last year when I showed you what a bear penis bone looked like? Well, this year I had something even more impressive, but was afraid of offending too many of you. Let’s just say that a bull elk is called a bull for good reason, and leave it at that! I really don’t want the picture out there for anyone to Google, so use your imagination. Just….whoa!

Now comes the REALLY nasty part. The Man, in his efforts to thwart marauding neighbor dogs and cheat the coyotes, put the poor elk’s head up on the garage roof, under the assumption bugs would clean it off and then he could bleach the skull for the wall in his man cave. (Don’t think I didn’t notice you disappeared for a few days, little fly.) After that frost we had very warm weather, and the smell got worse and worse. I was at the brink of buying a case of face masks or moving to my daughter’s when he gave in and removed it. It’s now soaking in a big tank of soapy water. No smell, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Ugh.fly1gifcropped

The man hadn’t been gone 30 minutes when my dryer stopped dead. No flicker, no pulse. Figures. So I hung everything on the line and resigned myself to roughing it. (It’s a top loading, computerized prima donna dryer, not easily repaired.) My son, Lord Voldemort, rolled his eyes when I wanted to try my computer “cure”, which was to unplug it and plug it back in. Guess what? Uh huh, oh yeah, who’s the dryer fixer here? That be me!fly1gifcropped

We have two chest freezers, and both are full to the top with meat and veggies. It makes my squirrel instincts happy to see all that food for winter. I’m on to dehydrating things now, because that doesn’t take up much room. A trip to Costco for coffee and wine dog food and I’ll be ready for the snow to fly!

fly1gifcropped

Russ: “Man, that Middle East is a messed up place. Makes you wonder why Israel doesn’t just move their country somewhere else.”
He’s a bright guy – much more into politics than I – so I’m pretty sure he was messing with me. But…WHAT?!fly1gifcropped

Gardening isn’t all grunting and dirt. Sometimes it provides amusement. Case in point:

Potato family

Cute little potato family.

 

I have a few other examples that are also rated “G”.

.garden critter collage

fly1gifcroppedJust to show how much influence a female has over a male, Daisy has finally taught old stodgy Otis to throw caution to the wind and play! It may not look like much fun, but they’re having a great time wrestling together. Makes me happy.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets a leg chewed off!

This has been an “all work, no play” kind of month. If anything funny was said it probably just went right over my head. I see some calm times coming though – after the tomatoes and apples are processed and the garlic is dried and the dry corn is picked and the potatoes are sorted, and the elderberries are made into syrup…well, I’ll try to make time to jot down funnies as they happen. ‘Til then, click on the links below for some good laughs.

 

Baking In a Tornado
Stacy Sews and Schools
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Momisodes
Follow Me Home
Go Momma O
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Spatulas on Parade
Juicebox Confession
Someone Else’s Genius
Battered Hope