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Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Hello again! I have taken quite the sabbatical, haven't I! I started homeschooling my middle child this year. Though I adore homeschooling, I wanted to see how much of my time it would zap. It zaps a lot! Here we are, the week after Christmas. This is a special week for me and my family. Every year while the kids have off, my husband takes off work and we essentially lock ourselves inside our house, and have a quite "staycation". We drop off the face of the earth! We love this time, and anticipate it all through out the year.
Last year this time was when I had the revelation that I wanted to cook everything I possibly could from scratch. A whole year has passed, and with homeschooling, I have not gotten as much done as I would have liked. BUT, this week has rekindled that passion for cooking. My husband (as usual) got me some terrific cooking tools for Christmas, and a WONDERFUL cookbook! He encourages me to cook on our week off. This year I have learned to make my own alcoholic eggnog (waaaay better than the store bought kind!), Lepp cookies (those will be gone fast!), old world soda bread (I think this will become a staple in our house!), homemade pizza using a cast iron pizza stone (oh baby, there's NO going back!), meringue cookies, among other things. I will be posting these recipes in the following weeks.
I am also going to pick some recipes from the FABULOUS book my husband got me for Christmas, try them out, and have the family rate them for you all! Stay tuned! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all! <3

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Weekend Apple Pancake

I was browsing breakfast recipes that include apples (I love using apples and pumpkins this time of year), and came across a WONDERFUL recipe for a Pa Dutch style apple pancake. Note, these are NOT pancakes ,  but a big, puffy, cake style pancake. My family adored it, and I will certainly be making this again! I am in love with this recipe! Enjoy!

Weekend Apple Pancake
2 large or 3 medium apples, preferably tart ones like Granny Smith
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs
Powdered or cinnamon sugar, to serve
Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel, core, and quarter the apples, then cut them into medium slices (1/4-inch thick or less). Then cut the slices in halves or thirds. You should have about 3 cups of chopped apples.
In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and set aside.
Cut the butter into chunks and place them in a deep cast iron skillet or 8x8-inch baking dish. Put the skillet or baking dish in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the 1/3 cup brown sugar over the melted butter. Carefully spread the apples on top of the brown sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples. Put the pan back in the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar.
Whisk the flour with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the milk, beat in the vanilla and the eggs one by one. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. By now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples.
Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples. Bake for about 20 more minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.
If you want, serve with powdered sugar or more cinnamon sugar. I usually find that it is just sweet enough as it is.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffins

I'm BAAACK! And I have a delicious recipe for a hearty, fibrous, fall-fantastic muffin!
Here's what you need:
2 cups flour (2 all purpose, or 1 bread and 1 all purpose, or 1 whole wheat and 1 all purpose, whatever combination you so desire) I used 1 bread flour and 1 cup all purpose
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg
1 whole carrot (chopped in food processor)
1 apple, peeled and cored (thrown in the food processor with the carrot)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 eggs
1/3 veggie oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 can pumpkin
If you want to, add a little wheat or oat bran, some ground flax seeds, and some steel cut oats. Just for good measure (and extra fiber)
Mix together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Add carrot/apple mix (that was chopped fine in the food processor). Add pumpkin, and oil and mix well.
I like my muffins big, so I greased a BIG muffin pan (holds 6 big muffins). Put it in the oven at 350. If making small muffins, bake for 20-22 minutes. For large ones like I made, it's more like 32 minutes.
Don't these look great!?


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Simply Delicious Hummus!

I am a HUGE fan of hummus! I love plain, red pepper, roasted garlic, caramelized onion and all other variations of hummus! Hummus that the store costs anywhere from $4 something to $7 something (depending on size and fancy pants brand). Making hummus is not only EXCEEDINGLY simple, BUT doesn't cost much, considering that the ingredients that DO cost the most, you get the most out of! Here is my VERY SIMPLE and favorite recipe for hummus. You can take this recipe and build off of it. Caramelize some onions and then throw it in. Roast a red pepper, take the skin off and seeds out and throw it in. You like garlic? Put extra in. Spinach and artichokes. Whatever you like!
1 can (drained) chick peas
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic minced or chopped
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Throw all the ingredients into your food processor. Blend away until smooth! Break out some celery, carrots or pita bread and enjoy your heavenly homemade hummus! Mmmmmmm!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Ice Cream!! Or is it??

We go to Ocean City NJ every year. On the boardwalk there was a store called Bashful Banana. They make Banana whips, which are heavenly!! They take a frozen banana and run it through a juicer. That is simply IT! SO, I decided to try this at home, but without an expensive juicer. Here is the recipe I came up with. Very simple! The kids will adore it, and you will not feel guilty about eating it. It's a banana (and some milk).
Peel your bananas and freeze them. for 24 hours is good. when you are ready, chop your frozen banana up into slices, and put them in a food processor. Add a little bit of milk (maybe 1/4 cup?) and blend in the food processor. It should be light and fluffy, like the consistency of soft serve. THAT, my friends, is IT! There are some fabulous things you could add to make it more interesting if you like. Some ideas would be ~ peanut butter, chocolate chips, m&m's, chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, other fresh fruits, nuts, or put sprinkles on top and some whipped cream for a sundae!!
If you try this delicious alternative to ice cream, leave me a comment and let me know what YOU think of it!! Happy eating!

The Winner of the Homesteading For Beginer's DVD!!

We have a winner for the Homesteading for Beginner's DVD giveaway!!! We picked randomly (you all had wonderful answers and I wish I had a copy to give you ALL!!). And the winner for the DVD IS......
LINDA STUBBS!! Congratulations Linda! And thank you to all of you who entered and shared about the giveaway on FB and Twitter. :0)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies Aren't Just For Christmas!

I love baking chocolate chip cookies over the Christmas Holiday. But this year I decided to take it a step further. Why not STOP buying cookies all together, and make cookies for the family every week or every other week? No preservatives, dyes, or high fructose corn syrup! I have made chocolate chip cookies, and other cookies almost EVERY WEEK since January of this year. I have made dark chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips, sugar cookies, short breads and I have ALSO made Oreo cookies!
This is my very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
2 and 1/4 cup flour
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

In the handy dandy mixer, cream together 2 sticks butter (I like to use 1 stick salted, and 1 stick unsalted), 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 brown sugar (packed), and 1 tsp. vanilla. Once mixed, add 2 large eggs. add in 1 tsp of Baking Soda and 2 & 1/4 cups flour. After it's all mixed, add 2 (generous) cups of chocolate chips. I also added rainbow sprinkles to this batch, for the fun of it! I use a cookie scoop (I'm sure you can get them ANYWHERE) to put my cookies on the baking sheet. I put twelve cookies on the cookie sheet, 3 in a row, and bake in the over (at 375 degrees) for 7 minutes. when you take the cookies out, let them sit in the pan for 1 minute before taking them off to cool. Then let them cool on a cooling rack (covered in wax paper) for the time it takes you to put new cookies on the sheet, and bake them. This ensures they don't break and crumble (that will happen if you move them too soon, or too much).
Your family will be so thrilled you are making Christmas cookies all year round! And it is better for them too!