Thursday, October 28, 2010


This has absolutely nothing to do with food.

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act... Proverbs 24:12

It has everything to do with real life.  It is yet another piece of the puzzle that is our current call from the Lord.

All children come from the Lord but for some, the journey home takes a little longer.

Please read this post from an American family living in Haiti.  If it doesn't move you to action, then take a look at yourself because something is very wrong with your heart.

Something is probably wrong with all of our hearts.

I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.  John 14:8

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

My husband is amazing at making sauces on the fly. Fries?  Got a sauce for that.  Reuben?  Homemade Russian dressing coming right up.  We never have to worry about running out of honey mustard at this house...good thing because we have to have our chicken tenders. 

You get the point.

He makes his own BBQ sauces.  This one was something he came up with out of nowhere and it just has to be shared.  It has a lot of ingredients, but it doesn't take long to put it together.  You do have to cook it for a couple of hours, but it is well worth it.  Besides, who needs a bottle of 97 ingredients, most of which are unrecognizable.  It's pretty awesome to be able to say, "I make my own sauce".  And it makes great Christmas gifts!

Pumpkin BBQ Sauce
2 cups ketchup [I like organic for the depth of flavor and lack of crap]
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp BBQ rub of your choice [keep reading to see Justin's rub]

In a medium sized saucepot, whisk everything together.  Bring it up to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 2 hours.  Be sure and take time to stir it every 20 minutes or so.  You'll end up with about 3 cups of sauce, which is A LOT.  We like to pack it up in mason jars and tie it with a cute ribbon. 

Justin's BBQ Rub
1 1/2 cups paprika
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp onion powder
4 Tbsp ancho chili powder
4 Tbsp black pepper

Stir it all together and keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  This makes about 2 cups and goes great as a sidekick to the sauce in a nice gift basket.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taco Soup

As of today, I am on vacation.  Vacation from baking for other people taking orders until Nov. 4.  Let's face it, baking/cooking cannot be escaped, even if it's just for family.  I like it, it's my love language, it's alright with me to do it every day.

Today, someone called me "The Cake Lady."  I felt as if I had arrived, if only for a moment.  Then I had to speed home and cater a lunch for some peeps, which resulted in my kitchen having been the messiest it has ever, ever been.  But it's cleaned up now and all is right with the world.

Here is a recipe for something not sweet.  It's spicy, warm, and makes lots of leftovers.  At least, leftovers if you only have 2 peeps in your house like I do.

Peeps?  I don't know why I keep using that word.

You will need:
*1 lb of the meat of your choice.  I used ground turkey, but you could use beef, roasted chicken, or even go meatless.
*1 red onion, chopped
*1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
*1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
*1 cup corn
*3 chopped chipotle peppers in adobo
*1 can diced tomatoes
*1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
*1 roasted poblano pepper
*1 large box chicken broth
*1 tsp minced garlic
*2 tsp cumin powder
*2 tsp ancho chili powder
*1 tsp kosher salt

What to do:
Cook the meat.  Or, if you're going meatless, start with the onion.  After the meat is browned nicely, saute up the onion.

After the meat and onions are browned/sauteed, you can either put them into your soup pot or do what I did, put them in the crockpot.  To that, you can add in the box of chicken broth, canned tomatoes, corn, and spices.  Add the beans in after they've been rinsed and drained.

Next is the chipotle in adobo.  A word to the wise: these are kind of spicy.  So....don't add 7 like I usually do.  I tend to go overboard.  I think 3 is enough for this soup.  Make sure to add a spoonful or two of the sauce.  You'll still have plenty left in the can so I recommend just putting it in a freezer-safe container and freezing it until you need it again.  Just in case you don't know what these are, here's a picture:

They cost less than a dollar.  It's smoked jalapenos in a delicously spicy sauce.

Then all you have to do is add in the smoked poblano.  A poblano pepper isn't spicy as much as it is flavorful.  If you like spicy foods, you'll enjoy this pepper, but even if you don't like spice I think you'll like the depth of flavor that a poblano brings to the pot.  I just charred it on the grill, put it in a bowl, covered it with plastic, and then peeled the skin off.

I like to leave a little of the char on because I like the flavor, but you can do what you want.  Just make sure you scrape out the seeds because that's where the heat is.
It's totally not necessary to add this at all to your soup.  You can even just saute it rather than char it.  I just felt like guilding the lily. :)

Feel free to swap out ingredients based on what you have in your cupboard.  That's the beauty of soup.  Also,this soup is essentially fat free.  Until you do this:
Crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.  Why do I do it?  Because life's too short not to eat full fat dairy products from your local dairy farm.  Or from Kroger...whatever.

Until next time..........

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

I don't know if it's all the pumpkins or what, but I can't stop wanting to eat candy.  It's an insatiable desire that came over me around 10am today and I guess that's why I decided to eat fun-sized candy bars and pumpkin cookies for lunch.  I should probably make a presumptive call to the dentist.  I'm usually more of a salty snack kinda girl, but I'm going to just embrace the sweet tooth while it's here.  It's ok to have a devil-may-care attitude around Halloween, I think.  :)

Here's a recipe for an easy-peasy homemade candy.  No thermometers needed. 

Peanut Butter Cups
6 oz chocolate [I used semi sweet but milk would be perfect]
3/4 cup all natural peanut butter
1/2 stick softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey

First, you'll want to line a muffin tin with papers that have been lightly sprayed with oil.  I used a mini muffin tin, but you could use a regular sized one. 
Melt the chocolate over a double-boiler.  This can be done in the microwave, but be very careful.  Chocolate will scorch so fast if you don't watch it!  To do it in the microwave, heat it in 15-20 second intervals, stirring in between each interval. It will seem tedious, but oh-so-worth it when you don't have to throw your chocolate out and start over.  However, I do prefer the double-boiler method. 
Once your chocolate is melted, coat the bottom of the muffin paper with 1/2 to 1 tsp melted chocolate, depending on the size you're making. They don't have to be perfect or symmetrical because the chocolate you put on the top will fill in the gaps.  After you put the chocolate in, place it in the fridge for about 5 minutes to harden slightly.

Mix the peanut butter, honey, and softened butter until well combined.  Then place about 1-2 tsp of the peanut butter into the chocolate filled cups.
Then all that's left to do is top these with another 1/2-1 tsp melted chocolate, let them harden, and EAT them!

I must apologize for not having a photo of the finished product.  There were people at my house and we ate them all really fast.

Yeah........that's what happened.  Cross my heart and hope to---eat more candy.

I'm making more tomorrow but I couldn't wait to post this recipe because it's so easy.  I hope you can forgive me.  And make them, I say, make them! 

Muahahahaha.....Happy Halloween candy making!

UPDATE: I made more and took a picture.  These were made with milk chocolate rather than dark.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This week...

My stomache feels squeezy.

Does that ever happen to you?  It doesn't really hurt, and I'm not really nauseous...just somewhere in the middle.  I've already had a cup of coffee, a muffin, and right now I'm waiting on my Earl Grey to steep. 

They are building two new houses catty-cornered on both sides of the back of my house.  Note to self: never move into a neighborhood with empty lots near your house.  The construction work is loud, but the workers are louder.  They play music that wasn't good when it was new, they talk really loud, and I'm pretty sure their cigarette smoke gets into my house.  The worst of it is that they're out there every single day.  I couldn't even take my Sunday nap yesterday.  Maybe that's why I'm in a funk today. 

I also have to buy a new car this week.  We know that the Lord has the right vehicle at the right price, but I am still anxious.  Maybe I'll just a get a bicycle.  Oh wait, I can't do that because we live in the middle of nowhere and I'd never make it to the city on a Huffy.  Huffy...isn't that a kind of bicycle?  Who knows.

I get to do my favorite thing this week...plan an event.  We're having a little fall party for the college students Sunday night.  I just love planning parties and menus.  It will be super fun!

Also, Justin and I will be carving pumpkins on Friday night.  We may have a contest.

After all this useless dribble, I'm sure you're wondering where the recipe is.  Well, I've got one for a really great muffin that could almost double as a cupcake.  It's a great way to use up some apples that might be on their way out.  Or, if you're like me, you picked too many at the orchard and you've got to find some way to use them.

Apple Cider Muffins
adapted from The Craft of Baking
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil [next time I'm going to skip this and add buttermilk]
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
2 tsp vanilla
2 crisp apples, peeled and diced, then drained of their liquid. 
1 cup cider [use the liquid drained from the apples as part of this measurement]
brown sugar for sprinkling on top before baking

Preheat oven to 350.  Generously oil a muffin tin or line with papers.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and oil.  Then add the eggs and whisk to combine.
In another bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
Use a liquid measuring cup to measure the cider.  In this cup, whisk in the yogurt and vanilla.
Alternate adding in the flour and cider mixtures into the sugar and oil.  Stir just until combined, and fold in the apples.
Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way, then top with a little brown sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
These muffins are really, really moist.  I'm thinking that I could leave out the oil/buttermilk altogether because the yogurt makes them so moist.  Unlike many other fruit muffins, these have kept perfectly fresh on the counter for about 4 days now.  They could even be topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and go as a cupcake!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Something Easy

I'm going to give you a recipe to keep on your fridge for those moments when you need something in a hurry.  For instance, when your husband says to you, at 9pm, "Hey, I need you to make dessert for a work lunch tomorrow".  Or when your inlaws call and say they're halfway to your house.  Or when you need dessert but don't want to put forth the effort.  I'm sure you know what I mean. 

Also, this is pretty healthy.  Whole wheat, not a lot of sugar, unsweetened coconut, dark chocolate.  C'mon. 

Chocolate Coconut Bars

1 cup white whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/2 stick of butter at room temp [or microwaved until half melted...haha]
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil an 8x8 baking pan.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, stir together the butter and brown sugar until smooth and dreamy.  Yes, I said dreamy.  There are not many things better than sugar and butter.  To the butter and sugar mixture, add the vanilla and egg.  Then stir in the flour/salt.  This will take some elbow grease, but just remind yourself that you don't have to wash your mixer.  Slowly stir in the chocolate chips/chunks and coconut.  Spread the mixture evenly into the pan and top with more coconut.  Then just bake it for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool a little bit, and then cut it up in to whatever size bars you need!

That's what it looked like before it was baked.  This recipe comes together in less than 10 minutes, bakes in about 30, and is ready to eat about 10 minutes after that.  So all in all, pretty quick and easy.  You could really play with the ingredients a lot.  Swap the chocolate chips for butterscotch, throw in some nuts, leave out the coconut, add peanut butter...whatever you have will work with the basic structure.  Play with your food!

Easy, fast, and healthy. How can you go wrong?! Now write this down and make it the next time you're in a pinch!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion [I used purple because that's what I like]
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 large butternut squash
2 sweet apples, your choice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice

First, you have to decide what you're going to do with the squash.  You can just peel it, chop it up, and throw it in the soup.  But the best way to do it is to roast it.  Cut it in half, brush some olive oil on and sprinkle on some kosher salt.  Put it in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Then you can just spoon it out.

While the squash is cooling, heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot.  Add in the onions and slowly cook until they are nice and sugary brown.  Then you can toss in the curry powder and stir until the onions are completely coated.  I also added some already roasted sweet potatoes and carrots.  When the onions are ready, add in the squash and diced apples.  Add the salt and pepper and then stir everybody together.  Then stir in the chicken stock and apple juice.  Slowly simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then take it off the heat and either blend in your blender or take the easy way out and use your immersion blender.  I always like the opportunity to use my immersion blender; I think it's my favorite kitchen tool.

So...this a pretty weird soup, don't you think?  For us, we thought perhaps it would serve a better purpose as a base on our plate, topped with a nice piece of fish.  Or maybe even a fusion curry, served with rice and chicken.  Altogether, it's a strange combination that I think just needs something

Perhaps bacon.  Everything's better with bacon.

If you decide to try this, let me know what you think.  I, on the other hand, will be trying to figure out what to do with all this leftover soup.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Strange Land

Today I awakened in a strange land---Ohio.  I had a pretty open week, not a lot to do besides hanging out with some college students.  However, my husband was going away on business to Ohio and decided to bring me along. 
So, we left our house at 8:30 last night, dropped the dog off at her grandparents, and headed north.  We checked into a hotel in Colombus, OH at 1:30am and checked out at 5:30am.  Too bad it wasn't pay by the hour, eh?  We then drove almost 3 hours north to Canton, where I am currently posted up at a darling little coffeehouse just a few minutes up the road from where Justin is working.
I have been doing a lot of baking for clients lately, but I didn't bring the cord to transfer the photos and quite frankly, I don't like recipes without photos.  So that will have to wait, and I'm frustrated about it.
It's a lot chillier up here than down where we live, which I believe is below the Mason Dixon Line.  I know, what a lame southerner I am.  I don't really know where that line is.  I'm pretty sure I'm above it now, though.  I think I'm pretty close to Pennsylvania so I may just take a drive up there.  I'm free for like the next 12 hours. 
I'm sipping some spiced apple cider because I'm afraid the caffeine in a coffee would make me pass out.  I haven't had to go on this little sleep in years.  We woke up to the sound of both our alarms which had been going off for about 17 minutes.  If I can make it until 3, I can check into our hotel and take a nap. 
I'm also listening to 3 women discuss what real revolution in their church would be like.  I bet they think I'm super smart over here, with my fingers quickly dancing across the keyboard of this broken-down laptop.  Little do they know, I'm just a wannabe food blogger who forgot her camera cord. 
Also, a priest just walked in and ordered a muffin the size of a communion goblet.  I think he's with the other ladies; they look Catholic.  Don't you love how I just make all the assumptions?  I'll be doing this all day.  But, the image of the Pope on one of the women's lanyards kind of validates my hypothesis.
I wish I wasn't wearing sweatpants.  I feel slouchy.  I also haven't showered since yesterday morning.  But that's because the hotel last night was less than stellar.
Here's to a random day. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dorie's Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

3 cups all-purpose flour [I used whole wheat for half]
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar [I used just one]
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, room temp
about 4 very ripe bananas, mashed [yielding 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups]
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt [all I had was vanilla Greek yogurt and it worked out fine]

Preheat the oven to 350.  You know the drill: generously oil and flour your trusty bundt pan.
Whisk the flour, soda, and salt.
In your mixer's work bowl, beat the butter until it's super fluffy.  Add the sugar until the color is pale and the mixture is creamy.  Beat in the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, mixing for one minute between additions.  Reduce mixer to low and add in the bananas. Finally, mix in half the dry mixture, then all of the sour cream/yogurt, and lastly the rest of the dry mixture. 
Scrape all the batter into the bundt pan.  Be sure and drop the pan a couple times on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until your cake tester or thin knife comes out clean.  Check the cake ater about 30 minutes.  If the top is browning too quickly [which happened to me], cover it loosely with foil for the remaining bake time.
Once it's been removed from the oven, let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing the cake onto the cake rack.  If you have time, this is one of those cakes that tastes better the next day.  I'd recommend keeping it in a tupperware cake container or wrapping it well in plastic.  Just before serving, you'll want to drizzle it with a vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze
2 Tbsp softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
splash of milk
powdered sugar

Whisk the butter and vanilla until smooth.  Add in the milk and powdered sugar.  There aren't measurements for these because you can just keep adding until you get the consistency you want.  Make sure it's thick enough to pour over the cake.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Syrup

...that just makes your mouth water, doesn't it?  Well, it's what we ate for breakfast and I just had to share it with you.  Between a long day yesterday of grocery shopping, fall fun, and having to make this:

I thought we deserved a delicous autumnal breakfast.  So here it is, pumpkin pancakes and the best syrup ever, courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod.  I have adjusted the recipes just a bit to suit 2 people, but you can find their post here.

I think it's a good idea to make the syrup first. 
Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp AP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c water

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small saucepan.  Add the vanilla and water, and while whisking frequently let it come up to a rolling boil.  Continue boiling and whisking until it becomes thick like a syrup.  Be really careful that it doesn't boil over the pot, because then you'd have to start over.  As if something like that would happen......certainly not to me it didn't.... 

Pumpkin Pancakes
1/2 c AP flour
1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
a scant cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a bowl suitable for pancake batter, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In another cup, bowl, etc, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.  Then combine the wet with the dry.  I like to use a cast iron skillet to cook my pancakes, and I cook them in BUTTER. There is no other way, in my opinion. 


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Something Savory

It's October 6 and I don't have any pumpkins on my porch yet.  I've got a wreath, some mums, and a scarecrow, but no pumpkins.  I'm a little discouraged.  I refuse to buy them from the grocery store.  I know, it's weird.  The whole experience of going to someone's pumpkin patch needs to go along with getting the pumpkin.  I think we'll have to do that on Friday.  Speaking of pumpkins, here's a little tip: cinnamon is a natural food preserver.  You can sprinkle cinnamon on the flesh of your carved pumpkin and all down inside it to make it last longer!

I have a simple recipe to share today.  It's for these little ham sandwiches that I made for someone over the weekend.  These sandwiches, like the cake from yesterday, are something I had never made or tasted before Sunday.  I'm lucky I got to taste them because most of the time I'll make something for someone's party and never really know if it was good.  The person having the party wanted me to stay, so that's how I got to sample these. 

This recipe made 2 dozen mini ham and swiss sandwiches.

You will need:
24 small rolls [I used Hawaiian rolls, but I don't really prefer them]
12 pieces good quality sliced ham [you'll cut them in half]
6 pieces swiss cheese [you'll cut these into quarters]

Assemble the sandwiches with one piece of ham and one piece of cheese and place them into a casserole dish. 

Here's the kicker.  You're going to make this delicious buttery sauce to spoon on top of them.

You will need:
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp poppyseeds
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground mustard

Whisk all of that together and drizzle it on top of the sandwiches.  Wrap the casserole dish[es] in foil and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or even overnight.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and you'll end up with these melty, buttery, delicious mini ham sammies that you can serve at a ballgame or any party.  They're soooo good!  This is an old recipe that you can find in a lot of cookbooks from the 70s and 80s.  Try it sometime!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Holy spice cake, Batman!

We had our first frost this morning!  The hubby and I decided to sleep with the heat on last night since it was going to dip down into the 30s.  It was nice to wake up all warm and toasty, but hard to get going with morning duties.  Thank goodness I don't have that many things to do.   

In other news, I think I'm going to have to get the dog a sweater. She keeps curling up in a ball and kind of shivers. 

It has been said that a photo is worth a thousand words.  I think that this one may stop your tongue in its tracks and render you speechless.  I'm no food photographer, but this cake just looks amazing, if I may be so bold.  Yes, I'm taking a couple minutes off from my usual lack of self-confidence and overall hypercriticism of everything I bake.  Please don't ruin it. 

This cake is my interpretation of this cake from Joy the Baker.  The main difference is that she used pears when I used apples. 

Apple Spice Cake with Walnut Praline Topping

2 cups flour [1 cup AP and 1 cup White Whole Wheat]
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3 apples, peeled and diced into about 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup walnuts, toasted, cooled, and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray, butter, spray again, and flour bundt pan.  If you have the kind of relationship with your bundt pan that I have with mine, you understand what I mean. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Beat the butter, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in your mixing bowl on medium high until fluffy, about 3 minutes with your stand mixer.  Add the egg yolks one at a time until well incorporated, then add in the vanilla.  Reduce the mixer to low, and then add the flour and buttermilk in alternating fashion.  Be sure this is mixed thoroughly, scraping down the sides if needed.
Fold in the apples and walnuts.

Beat the eggwhites in a separate bowl just until they hold stiff peaks.  Then gently fold them into the cake batter.  Spoon the batter into the bundt pan, smoothing the top, and bake until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  This will take about 40-50 minutes.

Cool in cake pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Walnut Praline Topping
3/4 cup [packed] golden brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Stir together the sugar, cream, and butter in a small saucepan until it all melts together.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring often.  DO NOT WALK AWAY!  Stir in the walnut pieces and spoon over the cake. 

The cake is best served warm or at room temperature.  I would eat some for breakfast if I had some right now.  It has fruit, nuts, and whole wheat so...that's breakfast in my book.

Here's another look.

I know you are super impressed by my mad photography skills.  I can tell.  Someday I'll upgrade from my point-and-shoot to something legit, but making cakes and sandwiches for people at random intervals in life doesn't exactly expand my bank account. 

In the meantime, make this cake. I'm begging you.  It's so light and moist and just tastes like fall.  You don't have to use a bundt cake pan.  In fact, you'll save yourself some grief if you never own one.  I can't tell you how many times I've had a cake get stuck in mine.  And every time it happens I swear I'm never making a bundt cake again. 

But I just can't help myself.  The fancy shape is so homey and old-fashioned.  It makes it taste better, somehow.  You should totally make this cake today.  If you don't have apples, use pears, or maybe even apricots. 

Happy baking, my friend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Is it cold where you are? I woke up to 63 degrees in our little house this morning.  After adorning sweats and brewing the coffee, I made the decision to turn the heat on for a few minutes.  I had to!  It was 40 degrees outside with the wind howling, but I'm thankful to God for the little things like a cozy house and a hot cuppa joe.

On this chilly start to a new October week, I have quickly learned a valuable lesson.  Peanut butter crackers followed by pumpkin spiced coffee is horrid.  It made my coffee taste old.  Consider yourself warned.

This is going to be a big week at The Mason Jar.  There are some a-maz-ing recipes that I tried out this weekend that I can't wait to share with you.  OK, maybe it won't be that impressive, but I am excited to have new material to write about.  Some people have writer's block; I sometimes suffer from baker's block.  But, I pressed onward yesterday, bursting forth to the other side and have survived to bake another day. 

Last night I was charged with providing the food for a home Bible study that is had by some of the ladies in our church.  They take turns hosting each week and I did the food for them a couple weeks ago, so I kind of new who I was cooking for.  I think that knowing your eaters is the priority in determining what to prepare, especially when you are sweetly told, "Oh, just fix whatever sounds good, hon."  Everyone around here calls me, "Hon."  I'm learning to go with it.  Anyway, since I tend to live on the edge, I prepared a menu of foods that I hadn't cooked before.  I even baked a cake without a recipe...gasp!  If that ain't crazy, I don't know what is. 

Today I want to give you a quick recipe for pumpkin spice syrup.  In my last post I shared how to make homemade pumpkin spice lattes, but I wanted to share this syrup for when we have those busy mornings and don't have time to make a latte.  This is super easy, and I found the recipe over at Tasty Kitchen

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup
In a small pot, combine 1 1/4 cup water and 1 1/4 cup sugar. You are making simple syrup.  Let it come up to a boil and then turn it down to low, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Then whisk in 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves, nutmeg, and ground ginger.  Also, whisk in 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Once it turns kind of a brown color [about 2 minutes], take it off the heat.  Let it come to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. 

I put mine in a squeeze bottle, just keep it simple.  At first when I tasted the syrup I thought, whoa!--too much cinnamon!  But in my coffee it is just perfect.  It got me to thinking that making my own coffee syrup is pretty simple.  Once you get the simple syrup made, you could add vanilla, ginger, or anything you like!

Stay tuned for tomorrow...the mother of all spice cakes.  :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ringing in October

October is here!!!  We can celebrate because:
-It's officially ok to cook with pumpkin.

-The weather is really getting chilly, at least in the morning and at night.  Which meeeeaaaans...we don't have to run the air.  Ka-ching!
-There are 5--- count 'em ---FIVE Saturdays this month!
-We are 12 weeks from Christmas, as of today. 

Yesterday we went over to Haney's Appledale Farm in Nancy, KY.  Here are some photos from the day.

We spent a little time getting the house ready for fall [still doing that today] and we made the season's first batch of McDonald chili.  Well, the hubster makes it but I enjoy sitting back and letting him have fun in the kitchen.  We also watched The Great Pumpkin and Dan in Real Life last night. 

Homemade pumpkin spice lattes!  Take that over-priced coffee conglomerates!  Nothing against the commercialized coffeehouse, but I don't happen to live near one.  Also, I don't particularly want to consume manufactured coffee syrups.  So, what's a girl to do?  Make these!  Check out the link for the original recipe, but here's how we did it.  This recipe is for 2 lattes.

About 1/2 cup coffee per latte
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp sugar [or sucanat]
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp roasted Saigon cinnamon [or whatever cinnamon you have]

Brew your coffee.  We like ours in a French Press.
Heat your milk on low, whisking in the pumpkin puree and sweetener of choice.  Once it's hot, remove it from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. 
The original recipe states that you can add the warm milk into a blender for about 15 seconds to froth the milk.  We have an immulsion blender with a frothing attachment that we used, or if you happen to have an espresso machine you can steam the milk with that. 
Pour even amounts of coffee and then the milk into 2 mugs.  Top with froth, and whipped cream if you so desire.  You can garnish with more cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

It sounded kind of weird to me to cook the pumpkin puree into the milk, but it totally works.  You should try it today!  I can't wait to make another one...possibly right now.