Tag Archives: A to Z Challenge

T is for Tarts

So simple, but so lovely and delicious. These tarts are perfect as a little something to take to a potluck, or to share with the office, or to give as a thank you gift.

Make as many or as few as you need; taking into account their nibble-bility factor!

Choose your favorite, most flavorful preserves and prebaked, ready-to-use tart shells.

Tart with Preserves

Combine two parts preserves to one part confectioner’s sugar, adjust as needed until thickened. Add two teaspoons almond extract. mix well.

Spoon into prepared tart shells.

Tarts Spoon

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add a touch of whipped cream or frosting.

Tarts Pan

S is for Salad

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of this incredible planet, this post celebrates gardens and gardeners.

Salads are actually quite a lot of fun to create – the components are limited only by the season, one’s preferences, and the size of the bowl. Any memory of salad as iceberg lettuce with pale tomato quarters drenched in heavy dressing is nothing more than a fading gastronomic nightmare.

Fresh greens are just the beginning.

Add some fruit, a splash of fresh lemon juice …

Homemade dressing, beans, shredded veggies and cheese …

Hard boiled eggs, raw cauliflower, a sprinkle of seaweed …

With sun and rain and fish emulsion (yuck), bright and happy gardens will flourish and soon fill farmers’ markets and our kitchens with dew-fresh veggies and fragrant fruits. Splurge, indulge and delight in the bounty that is spring and summer!

Best FriendsFor Mona.

 

R is for Rising Yeast

Prior to an open house, realtors often suggest homeowners bake bread so the house smells ‘homey’ and encourages sales. Mr. Selfridge, the marketing genius, was the first to place perfume counters near his store’s front entrance to create a scent barrier between the muck and stink of the city outside and a lovely shopping experience inside. Even today, major retailers strategically position baking ovens, or purposefully scent the air, knowing how important fragrance is to a sense of well-being.

Rising Bread Machine

With the convenience of bread making machines, that same contented, bakery-fresh feeling can pervade your home with the push of a button.

The recipe below is slightly more labor-intensive than a regular loaf of white or wheat breads, but having just devoured a piece of the stuff – oh it is so worth it!

Basic Sweet Dough

As with any bread machine recipe, please refer to your particular machine’s manufacturer’s directions first.

(For 2 pound loaf)

3 eggs, large at room temperature

1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

After fitting with paddle, place all ingredients in order given above in bread pan. Place pan in machine, choose the dough setting.

Rising Dough BowlAllow to complete cycle, approximately 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan and place in large, lightly greased bowl. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.

 

 

Rising Dough Big

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 – 2 tablespoons cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, etc. to taste

Combine all three ingredients in small bowl, set aside.

Shape dough into rectangle, then cover with butter spice mixture, spreading evenly. beginning with widest edge, roll dough into log shape, pinching the seam edge with fingers.

Spray tube pan with non-stick baking spray.

Place dough seam side down in prepared pan.

Rising Dough Pan Tube Wide

Allow to rise in warm, draft free location until double, or until finger pressed into dough leaves an indention – approximately 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375*

Bake for 17 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Remove from oven, allow to rest 5 minutes before removing from pan. While still warm, but before serving, drizzle (or slather?) bread with icing.

Cinnamon Icing

In small bowl combine powdered sugar with generous amounts of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, etc. and small amounts of milk and/or grade B maple syrup. Mix until smooth, adding milk or sugar as needed to reach desired consistency, noting that the icing will thicken as it sits.

Use as icing for breakfast breads, waffles, or to frost chocolate cake, etc.

Enjoy!

 

Q is for Quilt Cookies

As part of the Indiana Bicentennial, many communities throughout the state are making quilts, hosting quilt shows, and offering classes to those unfamiliar with quilting.

Knowing that Scout groups, teachers, civic clubs and families often look for kid-friendly ways to incorporate history and the arts into their meetings or lesson plans, I thought it might be fun to make edible quilts. A tasty lesson is no less a lesson!

Q Cookies Store

Although the same idea can be applied to cupcakes, sheet or round cakes, this ‘recipe’ is for cookies. And considering how … challenging … the implementation of these great ideas can become when working with younger children, this particular approach is very easy and pretty cheap.

Before starting, you will need:

 

Store brand sugar cookies – try to buy at least three times as many cookies as there are children in order to offset nibbling, breakage, disasters, etc. And it might be helpful to use larger cookies so they will have more space with which to work.

Assorted colors of frosting – the pre-made/packaged tubes are convenient, but can get pricey when dealing with a larger group.

One option is to divide your favorite frosting recipe into as many colors as you have time, children, and imagination. Fill individual sandwich bags with each color, then snip the tip off, making a small opening for the frosting.

Working with cookies flipped top side down to use the flatter, smoother side of the cookie, draw a grid or pattern with one color frosting.

Q Cookies Frosted

 

Allow to set, then fill with colored frosting.

TahDah – it is now time to eat your quilt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P is for Picnic Pies

When planning a picnic or casual meal with friends, it can be fun to rethink those more familiar desserts. Apple pie is as American as … well, apple pie. But that is not to say that it is the most convenient dessert for eating sans plates and forks.

So, after having made personal cherry pies to celebrate Washington’s birthday, I thought I’d switch fillings for today’s post, and toss in some apples.

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Lesson learned – fresh cherries have a beautifully robust flavor that is naturally enhanced with a splash of almond extract. Apples are quieter in flavor, even when combining varieties, and especially when they are out of season and not brought straight home from the orchard. Lacking that flavor presence, the ratio of dough to apple can be disappointing.

So, I have tweaked this recipe to allow for the above mentioned variables, but suggest you wait to make these pies until you’ve stopped by a local orchard on a crisp crimson autumn day, gathered up bushels of fragrant, crisp, glowing apples, and arrived home to a cup of hot tea and a waiting kitchen.

And now for the recipe:

Apple Picnic Pies

2 boxes Pillsbury pie crusts (I will share my two favorite homemade pie crust recipes in another post, but the Pillsbury brand is actually the closest to real pie crust that I have found.)

12-17 fresh, flavorful apples, various (Granny Smith, Rome, Honey Crisp, etc)

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon each nutmeg, cloves, ginger

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract

1 egg and 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

Wash, peel and core the apples, then cut into chunks. In large DSC_0025pot, combine apples, butter, spices, sugar and extracts. Stir until apples are softened, but not mushy, and spices, etc. are evenly distributed. Add more butter (or cider, water or juice) if necessary, as apples cook.

 

Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350*

Remove crusts from packaging. Roll out each crust until eight 2 1/2″ to 3″ circles can be cut from each crust, for a total of 24 discs.

Place 12 dough-discs on parchment lined baking pans. Spoon generous 1/3 cup apple mixture into the center of each disc. Bear in mind that this amount will vary depending upon the amount of liquid and the size of the apple chunks.

Cover each mound of apple mixture with the top dough-disc. Press and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Using the tines of the fork again, poke holes in the top crust to allow steam to vent from each pie.

Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash.

Bake in a 350* oven for 25+ minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool on racks.

If desired, cover with a glaze made from powdered sugar and water.

Makes 12 three-inch Apple Picnic Pies

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N is for Nutty Mashed Yum

The title isn’t very clear – it sounds like nut butter – which this is not.

It is a recipe for mashed potatoes, without any potatoes.

Clean, cut and cook until soft the florets from one head of cauliflower.

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Add a heaping tablespoon or two of partially ground cashews for creaminess.

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Add butter, plain yogurt, herbs and spices to taste.

Oh! And my husband just told me that he uses a little nutritional yeast in this dish, too!

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Serve a healthier dinner – and a delicious one, too!

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O is for Oversized

What is better than a cookie?

An oversized cookie … and a very big glass of milk.

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This is another easy-peasy recipe that requires nothing more sophisticated than a large pizza pan or baking stone to make it something memorable.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup well packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups (generous) chocolate chips, mini candy coated chocolates, etc.

Preheat oven to 375*

CombiDSC_0002ne flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in chips.

Dump the entire mixture onto the parchment lined pan, or stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes – approximately. When using the baking stone, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions – you might have to start baking the cookie in a cold oven. If using a large metal pizza pan, remember that this oversized cookie will take a tad longer than smaller, individual cookies.

Certainly, beginning with a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe makes it simple, but to liven things up, just toss in any flavor chips (I actually found cinnamon and lemon and even fruit flavors at a local bulk foods store), or mini-candy-coated chocolates, red cinnamon candies, or anything else that sounds good.

These oversized cookies were always a big hit with my students — and a lot quicker to bake than a zillion individual cookies.

Don’t forget the gigantic glass of milk, too!

 

 

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