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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dinner Aprons for the Retirement Center

Pictures of some of the Dinner Aprons for the Retirement Center.  I took a pattern for a cute apron and altered it so that it would be shorter.  I like the way they turned out, much nicer bibs then what I've seen.  I think they will love them.
December 14,2011 Laura Love and I hand delivered Christmas gifts to the Residents at the Tomball Retirement Center.  We delivered over 80 gifts.  We had dinner aprons, lap blankets, handmade jewelry of charms or kiln melted glass pendants as well as for the men we had Disciple Crosses and some handmade soap.  I think the residents were very happy with their gifts.  They were not much but were gifts of the heart. Very sweet people who reside there.  Laura Love got me out of a bind by giving me a hand.  I could not have done it on my own.   I was so concerned that I'd not have enough so that each resident would get a gift but we did...Planning on it again next year so I'm going to get started right away this year so I'll not be in a mad rush as I was this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chocolate Covered Coconut candies

I'm going to share my most secret recipe :0)   it is also my favorite. When I make these everyone always says how did you get the chocolate so yummy creamy.... I adapted these from my hubby's favorite chocolate cereal treat...kind of like what we make with rice krispies but with chocolate and a different "cereal" coconut...yummy!

Chocolate covered coconut....

1 large bag coconut
3-4 large bars of Hershey's Symphony chocolate bars

Toast coconut in the oven at about 380 till toasted well but not burnt
Meanwhile melt the chocolate bars in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, being careful not to burn.

Stir the coconut into the melted chocolate and coat well. The more chocolate you use the more like those expensive russell stover coconut clusters. Using 1 less bar gives them more texture and more fun to eat.

In the picture I used 3 bars to make them spiky looking. I also use three bars if I'm going to make those Bird nests that you can only get at Easter time with the 3 tiny jelly beans in them...yummy.

Note: If using less chocolate to get the birds nest look they will hold together better if kept in the fridge. If making the candy type to be more like the Russell Stover Coconut Clusters then you will need to crunch up the coconut to be smaller pieces and use more chocolate, (at least one more bar) then place them in the fridge to firm up. Then you can box them up like the retailers do, placing paper in between each layer in the box.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sausage Rolls

A good quality pork sausage raw, not the cooked sausage links; not suitable for Italian....a very very mild breakfast sausage will due after you add the spices...or you could make your own.

1 tablespoon butter
• 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
• a sprig of fresh sage, leaves picked
• a handful of breadcrumbs
• fresh nutmeg, for grating
• 6 good-quality pork sausages see note above also remove casing and roll into logs
• 250g ready-made puff pastry
• 1 egg
• a little milk

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add the sage leaves, cook for a couple of minutes more and then spread out on a plate to cool.

With a sharp knife, slit the skins of the sausages and pop the meat out. Put it in a mixing bowl with the cooled sage and onion mix and the breadcrumbs, then scrunch well with your clean hands to mix together.

On a floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a big rectangle as thick as a pound coin and cut it lengthways into two long, even rectangles. Roll the mixture into sausage shapes with your hands and lay along the centre of each rectangle.

Mix the egg and milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then fold one side of the pastry over, wrapping the filling inside. Press down with your fingers or the edge of a spoon to seal the join.

Cut the long rolls into the sizes you want and space them out on a baking tray. Brush with the rest of the egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through. Serve with piccalilli and a cress salad.

Cheese & Onion Pasty/Cornish Pies

"The traditional Cornish recipe uses a cheese such as Double Gloucester or English Cheddar, but I have made some very tasty varieties using Stilton, Feta, Bleu Cheese, and even Havarti."

3 sheets ( I use frozen, but homemade is fine if you are a purist)
3/4 ounce unsalted butter
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3/4 lb double Gloucester cheese or 3/4 lb cheddar cheese, grated
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Thaw the pastry.
If using homemade, put your dough in the refrigerator to chill.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Melt the butter in a frying pan on a low heat.
Mix in the onions and cook them until they are just beginning to soften.
Mix them with the cheese and parsley.
Roll out the pastry and cut out 6 rounds, each about 6 inches in diameter.
Put a quarter of the cheese mixture on one half of each one.
Fold over the other side and crimp the edges together.
Lay the pasties on a floured baking sheet and brush them with milk or beaten egg.
Bake them for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Pecan-Topped Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 15 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.

Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
You can also make these low GI by using Gluten free flour and I sub'd 1 cup of sugar substitute with 1 cup reg sugar and used apple sauce instead of oil.

Home hash browns quick

Fast hash browns using your own potatoes not frozen
For two
1 large potato grated, rinse and shake dry(you can leave the skins on if you want)
salt and pepper to taste
small 2 inch onion (omit if you don't like onion) chopped

In a medium microwavable bowl add the grated, rinsed potato with about 2 tbsp water and the salt and pepper, toss to coat the potaoes. Microwave for about 2 1/2 minute, the potatoes will not be completely done and you will be able to still toss them with a fork. If you over cook you will have mush so watch this closely. You want them just par cooked.
While the potatoes are cooking in the microwave get a skillet out and place on stove and turn burner on getting the pan good and hot. Add about 2 tbsp oil to the pan add onion and cook till translucent.
When the potatoes are par cooked drain the water off of them if there is any. Pour potatoes into the hot pan with the onions. Spread around in the pan so that as much surface of the potatoes are touching the hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes without turning. After 3 minutes toss potatoes around in pan with a spatula and cook for additional 3 minutes..keep doing this until the potatoes are as crisp as you like.... While all this is going on cook your sausage/bacon and then your eggs. All should be ready at the same time because the potatoes will only take about 6 minutes in the fry pan. I actually put my sausage in the oven at 375 when I put the potatoes in the microwave so I have one less thing on the stove top to worry about.

These are so good and crispy....and cost hardly anything to make.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My crazy dreams

Do you dream of things that when you wake you have the need or compulsion to recreate?  It is so weird but I always have, and generally I am not able to recreate these things, although I feel the need to give it my best shot.  I can not just let it go as just another nightmare.  I have to rummage through all my art supplies and figure out how to recreate that crazy thing I seen in my dream....  Here are some examples but believe me these are the least crazy of them all!
I call the one below, Nose in the News....lol  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pretzel Rolls

Above are the ones I made with the original recipe.  Below is a picture of the ones on the Food Pusher site.

Update:  New recipe found at Food Pushers
2 ½ – 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp room temperature milk
4 quarts water (for boiling)
½ cup baking soda
additional butter (optional)
Kosher or pretzel salt to taste
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, brown sugar and yeast. Mix in 1 cup water, milk and butter until a dough ball forms, and then kneed on medium low for another minute.

The dough should form a slightly tacky, but firm ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knead again for about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and gently degas it. Cut dough into twelve relatively equal pieces. Form into balls and set on a lightly floured piece of wax paper.
Drop balls three or four at a time into the baking soda bath for 30-60 seconds, turning once to guarantee both sides covered. Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Sprinkle the kosher salt over the bread to your specific tastes, and use a sharp knife to cut a small incision on the top of the bread so the dough has somewhere to expand.
Cook the bread for 18-22 minutes, or until deep pretzel brown, rotating the baking sheet once. Brush with melted butter, if desired. Remove to a cooling rack to cool.
These freeze really well, and are a great little snack. Just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power, and it's soft and warm.

The old recipe below:
The Dough
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 cup water, slightly warmed

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

The "Bath"
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

In a small container, mix yeast with warmed milk and let rest for 10 minutes.Whisk flour and teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

Add canola oil and warmed water to yeast mixture. Pour mixture into bowl with flour. Knead in the bowl until dough is very smooth. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let rise for one hour.

Punch down dough and knead in bowl for one minute. Cut dough into 15 pieces. Form balls by pulling the dough under. Place on a well-greased surface. Let the dough balls rise for 15 minutes.

While the dough balls are rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the pretzel "bath" ready. In a large pot, bring water, salt, and baking soda to a rolling boil. Plunge three dough balls into the water and let them "poach" for 1 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a well-greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut 2-3 lines across each roll and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pretzels are a rich brown. These are best eaten the same day they are made.

The Best Vanilla Cupcake recipe I've found

Yield: 2.5 dozen
From:  http://sweetapolita.com/2011/06/ruffles-roses-a-madish-tea-party/

1 3/4 cups (175 g) cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups (157 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL/8 liquid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract for all of my baking)


1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners.

2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low speed until blended. Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all butter is coated with flour.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, to mixer and blend until incorporated.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated (try not to over beat).

4. Using a 1.5 oz cookie scoop (or your cake batter tool of choice), divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting.

*Recipe source: Billy’s Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

These are best with Royal Icing


1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) meringue powder (I avoid Wilton brand and I like Ateco 480 Meringue Powder, 20 oz.)
*Optional: Flavoring/extract to taste (nothing oil-based) such as, almond extract, rosewater, vanilla extract (clear if you want the icing to remain very white), etc.
1 lb (454 g, about 3 3/4 cups) icing (powdered, confectioners’) sugar
Few drops food color gel (optional)


1. Place meringue powder, cream of tartar, and water (and extract, if using) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on low speed until frothy.

2. Add the icing sugar, and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. You can use the paddle attachment or the whisk attachment and see which you prefer (I tend to use the paddle attachment because it’s how I was taught by Bonnie Gordon, but I’ve done it both ways, and they both work!). The icing will be fairly thick, but glossy and not as thick as regular royal icing at this point.

3. If too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the icing just runs off a spoon and is glossy and spreadable (but not too watered down). I was also taught at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts that you can run the tip of a knife through the icing and count how many seconds until the line disappears, and when it takes about 8 seconds (in this case), I find it to be the best consistency for these fairy cakes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls — Artisan Bread

Here they are complete..yummy

This image is of the rolls rising.

The Master Recipe: Boule
Adapted From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
Yield = Four 1-pound loaves. Recipe can be doubled or halved
3 cups lukewarm water
1½ T. granulated yeasts (1½ packets)
1½ T. kosher or other coarse salt
6½ cups (29.25 oz.) unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100ºF.
2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a five-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve. (I added the yeast, then the flour and then the salt on top of the flour to avoid killing any of the yeast, but apparently this is unnecessary.)
3. Mix in the flour: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon. If necessary, reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead! It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.
4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you’re using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately two hours. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and is easier to work with. So, the first time you try this method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf.
If you want to make standard boules, continue with step 5 here.
Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls
1 1/2 lbs. of pre-mixed dough (recipe above)
Note: My portion of dough weighed 1 lb 12 oz., so the recipe is relatively flexible in this sense. I did have to whip up a little bit more butter-cinnamon-and-sugar filling, however, to compensate for the larger surface area.
The Caramel Topping
6 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves (I crushed up my pecan halves, but feel free to leave them whole if you wish)
The Filling
4 T. salted butter, softened (I used unsoftened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I did not use)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans (I did not toast)
Pinch of ground black pepper (I did not use.)
1. On baking day, cream together the butter, salt and brown sugar. Spread evenly over the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the pecans over the butter-sugar mixture and set aside. (Note: I experienced terrible spillage, which resulted in a burnt oven floor. Soooo, if you have a pan with high sides, that might work best. Otherwise, place a pan (disposable or not) on the rack below your pan to catch the spillage.
2. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1.5 lb piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (Note: I didn’t really do this. I simply placed my piece of dough (Which was a little bit larger than 1.5 lbs.) on my work surface and stretched it out into a rectangle.)
3. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry. If the dough is being stubborn, let it sit for 20 minutes, then come back to it with the rolling pin.
4. Cream together the butter, sugar and spices. Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. (I had to make a little bit more of this mixture to cover the surface area of my dough.) Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. If the dough is too soft to cut, let it chill for 20 minutes. (Note: My dough was very soft, but I was too impatient to chill it.)
5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. With a serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces and arrange over the pecans in the prepared, with the “swirled” edge facing upward. (Not sure what the “swirled” edge means — they were both swirled as far as I could tell?) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise 1 hour. Note: I basically just let my rolls rise for 20 minutes. As soon as the buns started filling up the pan, I popped the pan in the oven.
6. Bake buns about 40 minutes or until golden brown and well set in center. While still hot, run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. If you let them sit too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.