Saturday, October 25, 2014

How To Have a Good Day

How to Have a Good Day.
Step 1 - Wake Up
Step 2 - Be Grateful.
Repeat.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Ginger Scones

Repost from 2009

Fall Flavor! Pumpkin Ginger Scones!

These really hit the spot this morning. It was a cold morning, the trees were still orange and red and it was time for fall flavor!
So, here goes.
Baking with pumpkin is tricky because of all the moisture in the pumpkin, so I had to drain the pumpkin for all it is worth! Also, I didn't add eggs (like I normally do in scones, as the pumpkin was moist enough).

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2 cups flour (can use a combination of whole wheat and unbleached flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg & cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 - 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 - 2 tsp milk

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl - flour, spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar in a bowl.
Cut up butter into small pieces.
Mix buttermilk, vanilla & pumpkin together in a measuring cup.

Cut butter into dry mixture so that it becomes all mixed. I do this with one hand (that is washed and then run under cold water to make it cold. Dry thoroughly and squish the butter into the flour mixture). Mixture should blend well.

Stir in buttermilk mixture with a rubber spatula until blended.
Scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment using an ice cream scoop.
Bake for 24 min for large scones or less time for smaller ones.

Remove from oven when edges get nice and brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet.

Frost with glaze:
Mix powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, maple syrup and enough milk to make mixture thick.
Spoon on top of scones.
Yumm!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Edible Spiders for Halloween

Spiders are the perfect Halloween decoration and a great way to take an object that some people fear and making it cute and adorable.
Image by Sweetopia
Sweetopia shares an excellent tutorial for making a sugar cookie decorated with a spider's web. I love how she uses purple and oranges along with stripes and polka dots. The cookies are beautiful and yet whimsical and fun.
Image by Betty Crocker
Betty Crocker shares a simple way to transform Oreo cookies into spiders. Perfect for an excuse to use Oreos!
Image by Lilaloa
Lilaloa shares a tutorial for decorating a black widow cookie. Love the simple colors and the striking image.
Photo by iambaker
I am baker makes eerily realistic spider chocolate chip cookies using melted chocolate.
Photo by Lilyshop
Lilyshop uses store bought marshmallow cookies to make these spiders.
Image by Culinary.net
Culinary.net makes these spider cupcakes that are as funny as they are tasty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Caramel Biscotti

Repost from 2009

Recipe: Pumpkin Caramel Biscotti

Here is yet another pumpkin recipe. 
I love pumpkin in all forms, carved and lit with candles or baked in cookies or in pasta. Ashley likes pumpkin all right, but she asked me "Pumpkin again?"....
The answer is YES! 

This is a standard biscotti recipe. No fat (no oil or butter). But, it has a delicious little drizzle of caramel. Ohhh, CAR-A-MEL.....

2 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
6 caramel cubes
2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix flour, sugars, salt, baking powder and spices together in a bowl.
In a mixing glass, stir eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.
Combine egg mixture and flour mixture.
Mixture will be stiff, but don't give up.
(Add additional 1/4 cup flour, if needed.)
Divide dough in half.
Take one half and form it into a log about 8-10 inches long.
Place on a parchment lined paper.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 28 minutes.
Remove tray from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Remove one loaf from pan and slice into 3/4" slices. Return slices to parchment lined sheet.
Repeat with remaining loaf.
Bake for 8 minutes.
Turn cookie pieces over and bake for an additional 8 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Melt caramels and water. Stir until runny. Drizzle over pieces of biscotti.
Let caramel set (if you can) and enjoy....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Caramel Apples

Repost from 2009

An Apple a Day...

Somehow, I don't think this is what they had in mind when they suggested, "an apple a day"...
But it sure does add variety to life!
I have made caramel apples for the girls in the fall on and off through the years. We love them, they are a treat and they are a lot of work! But, oh so good. Here, I used vanilla caramel, mini apples (from the farm, that Dad gave me) white chocolate, dark chocolate.

Here is the tray that went with the girls to Wednesday night tennis practice. Their group of 12 works so hard. On occasion I send treats, like ice pops in the August heat and now caramel apples in the autumn cold.
These were made from simple, delicious ingredients and were a pleasure to make....
Here are some tips for making chocolate drizzled caramel apples....(even the name sounds decadent).
1. Use good quality apples in good condition.
2. Chill the apples in the fridge and then take them out 30 minutes before dipping time so that the apples can warm to almost room temperature, but still be cool to the touch. You don't want COLD apples, as the caramel will glob on and there will be condensation forming on the apples that the caramel will slip and slide and be a mess!
3. Use good quality caramel. I used vanilla caramel from King Arthur. It was costly, but it is exceptional. The Kraft caramels work, but obviously, the quality is a little waxy and loaded with artificial ingredients. But, for a once a year treat, make your choice.
4. Have all your ingredients at the ready "mise en place". Wash and dry the apples. Dry them 2 - 3 times. Water is your enemy here. Chop your chocolate and caramel. Set up your double boiler and prep for chocolate in bowls for melting in the microwave.
5. Line a larger baking sheet than you will think you will need with parchment, NOT tin foil or plastic wrap. In a pinch, you can use greased wax paper -- but the caramel still might stick.
6. Take a deep breath, and get ready!

1 dozen apples
1 dozen sticks... I found "craft sticks" at the arts n crafts store
2 pounds caramel, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate, chopped and set in a microwave safe bowl
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped and set in a microwave safe bowl
1 double boiler set up with the water simmering and the bowl part clean and dry
parchment lined baking sheet
2 pastry bags - for the chocolate.

First, line up the apples, make sure they are dry. Twist out the stems.
Place the stick in each apple, all the way through, but so it can stand unassisted. You will have some leeway as the caramel helps to form a base - so don't fret.
Add the caramel to the bowl of the double boiler or make your own double boiler.
Let the caramel absorb the heat and melt, stirring occasionally.

Holding the apple by the stick, set it in the caramel and gently swirl it down, as if you are screwing in a giant screw. Do not cover the whole apple (unless you like that), instead leave 1 - 2 inches of the apple showing from the stem part.
Continue to turn the apple, as it if it were on a spit and smooth the caramel around the apple with a spatula, like you were using a lathe. When you are happy with the coating, place the caramel covered apple on the parchment.
Repeat with the remaining apples.

Because the apples were cool, they don't need much time to set. If your apples were warm to start with, chill them for 10 - 15 min in the fridge, until the caramel sets.
Once the caramel is set, melt the dark chocolate.

(I melted the dark chocolate first, as I liked the white chocolate on top, but it is up to you).
Melt the chocolate, place in a pastry bag (or just drizzle on top of the apples with a spoon).
This doesn't require much time to set.

Repeat with white chocolate.

Now, allow the apples to set until solid - at room temp or in the fridge.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blessings

Some days are tough. Some weeks are tough. I try to be grateful for all that I have in life and most days I can find many things. Some days, though, it's a little tougher.
I'mg grateful for my family and friends. I love hearing from them and sharing in their lives.
It's stone crab season (Oct 15 - November 15) and I love the tender crab claws.
 Ashley knit herself a hat! She taught herself to knit just a few weeks ago and has been busy making scarves. I didn't know she could do a hat too!
And here's my version of the knitter!

Ashley, Allie and John went apple picking last weekend and enjoyed the beautiful New England weather.
When I'm not working, I've been busy playing tennis, running, and working out. I crave these chances to sweat and gasp for air. It's a relief for me to have an outlet when things get tough.