Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A is for Apple... First Place Apple Pie!! | Thanksgiving Prep

I am seriously feeling like it CANNOT be mid-November...
How is this all happening so fast??

Here we are...just 8 days away from Thanksgiving...
I'm feeling a mid-September vibe.
...my calendar keeps telling me I'm wrong... very wrong.

The yard looks like November.
...but my dining room...
Nope.

...not Thanksgiving ready yet!!

But...in 8 days...
We. will. get. there.

My internal clock...it's not keeping up with the pace of the days
as they shuffle by me... 

I LOVE Thanksgiving...I do.
It's a great big fun family day...
  and also a ton of work...but I love it just the same.



If you need a little nudge...*(like me) to get on with 
the Thanksgiving plans... well this post is for you!!



I was looking through my recipes...
and I am pretty sure I never posted a simple- no frills...
 apple pie...

Just in time for Thanksgiving... I give you...

Fist Place Apple Pie. (Recipe is at the bottom of the post)

I am also re-sharing all
my very BEST
Thanksgiving readiness posts...
If you need help with pie dough, decorating 
or keeping the kids busy... this is for you!!





Sunday, November 5, 2017

For Late Bloomers Everywhere | First Place Apple Cranberry Pie | GF Apple Walnut Cake

Several weeks ago we visited a local
apple orchard.

First time pickers here!!!

I felt like I needed to wear a button on 
my shirt "First Time Apple-Picker"...
proudly announcing my 
late arrival to this new and wonderful 
world of apples, fresh and juicy
 falling right into our hands, directly from 
the branches.

When I shared with a friend that 
I had never been apple picking before...
Well...she was shocked... utterly shocked!!  

"How does someone like 
you NEVER go apple picking ...until now!???"
 she exclaimed.  
"You need to get yourself to 
the orchard...this season...!" she said.

She was right. 
How had I missed this 
amazing fall tradition?? (until now)

Because, yes, ...I've been to many a farm 
...and I have picked
fruits and vegetables of all kinds...right form the fields...
strawberries, blueberries, peaches and cherries...
blackberries, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn...
~
Even picking and harvesting 
from my own little backyard garden...
But apparently, I have been
missing out on some of the best
U-pick action around:

Apple Picking!!!


Actually...
This whole apple picking business... 
it ranks right up there with all
the other activities that
 I have come to discover,
 well after the masses
knew they were awesome...

...like FM radio...

Yes, that's right... 
for a very long time I had no idea about FM radio. 

100% no idea, at all.

Zero inkling about pop music... none.

 How could this happen??

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Candy Solution!! Last Minute Halloween Ideas

In just a few short hours...
our house will be brimming with 
all sorts of candy...
A deluxe assortment from
neighbors far and wide...

My kiddos will be overjoyed at first...
but the excitement ...and somehow
the deliciousness of all that
sweet and sugary haul
 wears off pretty fast.
Here I am,  Halloween night with my younger brother...Clownin' around since 1979!!

All that candy...
...and in a few days the feeding frenzy
will fade to the background...

If your house is like mine...
you might be left with a few too many
fun size candy bars...

(I know...Is it really possible to be 
left with too much chocolate??)

If somehow your pantry is 
overflowing with 
too many fun size sweets...

I know just what to do!!

Recycle!!

Yes, recycle
all those assorted fun size chocolates 
into a really delicious dessert.
The greater the assortment of chocolates...
the better the dessert turns out!!

Every bite is different...
some with Twix, another bite with a little Baby Ruth... 
It's pretty amazing and everyone so far 
has LOVED it!!

It's great with a cup of coffee... and the best part...
It doesn't
scream... "Hey, I'm old Halloween candy!!"


Friday, October 6, 2017

The Cake That Changed Everything: German Chocolate Cake

The very first time I ever decided 
to enter a baking competition... 
I decided to bake a single
 cake from scratch.

No practice cakes... 
No taste-testing...
I simply baked a cake,
and entered it in our fair.  

Seems simple enough...

It was a local county fair, a well-attended and 
well-loved fair, right in the heart of the Midwest.

I could say... end of story...
but...actually,
this where the whole story really begins.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blue Ribbon 100: The Pecan Pie Recipe


I have a new special day to 
add to my collection
of favorite days...

It happened just the other weekend.

I love when that happens...
you just never know when 
a beautiful, 

'makes you smile
just to think about it'

kind of a day 
is coming your way... 

and aren't we so happy these days find us...?

and then, 
they leave a piece of themselves
behind...like a souvenir of happiness...
 —a sweet lasting memory.
Photo Credit: Hannah @Muddyoakenhouse via Instagram.  Thank you.


Some days just stay with me...
memories linger,
The wonderfulness and warmth of the day
is never too far out of reach.

Even though, those days are often the busiest...
as in, crazy busy  –hustling from one place to another...
working hard and trying to do waaaay
too many things at one time...

For me, so many of those really special days,
 —the ones that really stay with me, they often
revolve around big celebrations, and
holidays...

My newest favorite day was this...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Coffee Cake: w/ Honey Caramel Salted Pecan Frosting

So... It's acorn season here at my house...

Is it the same at your house??

If you have an oak tree in your yard
 you might know what I mean...

We have a few oak trees here in our yard
and year to year they drop a variety of different 
things from their branches...

sometimes...
 it's fuzzy brown "confetti"
...sometimes, tiny, itty-bitty acorns... 
other years bigger green acorns... 
and always, every autumn the oak trees drop so many leaves...
—plenty of shiny brown leaves fall from above.
Our oak leaves seem to fall last... usually late
November... it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Well, this is an acorn year, 
and if you have an oak tree like we do...
You know it's also the season of...

shoes.

Yes, shoes are a must...
—an absolute must.
no summer-time bare feet dare
 to make a quick run through the grass
to check the mail box... 

I can't step onto the front porch without the
 fear of stepping on one of those acorns...
or worse, stepping on handfuls of those pesky nuts...

I found out yesterday exactly what season it is
-- the new acorn season introduced itself to me
 when I ran out to dress up the light post.

I made a quick retreat into the house to
grab my shoes... a mistake I  do not plan to repeat.

I decided to transition the
 house for fall over the
 Labor Day weekend... 
I hesitated, because some of the planters looked good...
while others...were not so good... but in the end I thought I would
 be happier later in the month when I am short on time,
 to not have to keep planting and replanting pots.


I always think I have plenty of time for this
 and that, but anymore, after Labor Day...
things really start to pile up...
fun things, beautiful days and lots of great autumn outings...
but, I lose track of the time 
and before I know it's almost Halloween...
and then things really get moving...
I'm sure you must feel it too...
the days are short and the seasons 
are somehow coming faster than ever.

I sometimes try to hold off on mums... 
( it feels early to me this year)...
I can always replenish if they bloom early.  
A round two of mums never dampened any one's fall spirits.
 Besides...in a few weeks, pumpkins will be piled at
 my entryway door... plenty of fall color!!

Speaking of fall... and good things...

I posted the winners of the 2017 Country living Fair tickets. 
 They are:
 Lisa B.
Phyllis P. 
Lori L.
Congratulations!!  

You all received information regarding 
your tickets in an email this morning.  

For the rest of you...my sweet friends that still may 
want to go, get over to Jo Ann's and pick up discounted
 tickets at all OHIO Jo Ann Stores.  If you are not 
in OHIO, you can 
purchase pre-sale tickets at:
 https://www.stellashows.com/event/country-living-fair-ohio/

 TIP: If at all possible...it's better to buy
 early and not have to 
wait in a ticket line.

clf917h-612x612

Here's a WIN for everyone...
A very requested brand NEW recipe... 
just for you.  
This was my 98th blue ribbon win and a
 bonus Best of Show for the yeast category.

This... Cinnamon Swirled Yeast Coffee Cake 
with a Salted Caramel Pecan Frosting.

It's perfect for a brunch, 
company, or just because it's
 fall and nothing tastes better
 with a cup of coffee than this treat.

If you're not super comfortable working 
with yeast... don't worry... I'm new to it too... 
and you can totally make this.

First, a couple of things about this recipe...

There is butter in this recipe...surprise!!
...it's probably why it tastes so amazing.
Don't be scared by the amount of butter...after all
you won't be eating the whole
 coffee cake yourself...right??

The recipe follows after this handy dandy photo tutorial...

Sometimes photos are 
helpful describing steps in a recipe.
For those of you who just want the words...a words only recipe follows.


Photo Tutorial:
Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Coffee Cake with 
a Honey Caramel Salted Pecan Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray an 8 inch cake pan with non-stick vegetable spray
Set aside.

Warm 1 cup of buttermilk- less than 120 degrees.

IMPORTANT**
 (If you warm the buttermilk in the
microwave, be sure it is not warmer
 than 120 degrees... if it's too hot...
the yeast will die...and this recipe will not work.
Remember 120 degrees is just a touch warmer 
than body-temperature at 98.6 degrees.
  If you are not sure what 120 degrees
 feels like, use a thermometer.

Add one packet or 1/4 ounce of instant yeast
to the warmed buttermilk.
1/4 ounce = 2 1/4 teaspoons
Add 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Let yeast buttermilk/sugar mixture sit for 3-5 minutes.

In a stand mixer:
I used my whisk attachment, only because I could not
locate my regular paddle attachment... it worked fine.
I don't typically use the dough hook... 
just my preference... 
I think any attachment can get 
the job done for this particular recipe.

Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Add buttermilk mixture to flour and mix
on low until dough forms.

While the mixer is on low,
add 5 Tablespoons of softened butter to the
dough, (adding 1 tablespoon at a time).

Once combined, let dough rest in a greased bowl, 
covered for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Be sure the dough is resting in a warm, draft free location.

After dough has risen,
Turn the dough out onto a floured piece of parchment paper.

Roll the dough using a floured rolling pin.  
If dough is sticky, add flour, a little at
 a time until dough is workable.

Roll into a large 1/2 inch thick rectangle
(About a 9 x 12 rectangle)

Make the filling:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
(1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans-optional)

Spread 4-5 Tablespoons of softened butter over the dough
Sprinkle the butter with the sugar/spice filling.

Cut the dough into four 
3-4 inch strips length wise.

Fold each strip in half. Sugar/cinnamon sides touching.

Start in the center of the cake pan. 
Create a circular shape....much like a singular cinnamon roll.
Place the folded side down, leaving the cut (open side) side facing up.

Follow the center roll by adding additional
 folded strips of dough, (placing folded side on bottom of the pan) 
creating a larger circle.

Repeat until the pan is filled with dough.

(Yes, this could be made in a square pan, although the corners
 the would remain empty)

Cover and let dough rise 30-45 minutes

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven
 for 30-35 minutes or until the coffee cake is golden brown
and set in the center.

Let cool 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Let coffee cake cool.

For the Frosting:
In a medium saucepan on medium heat
melt:
3 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of honey
pinch of salt
 once sugar and butter have melted and are bubbly, add
1/4 cup of heavy cream. 
 Let mixture return to a boil and then turn off heat.
Let mixture cool down slightly.

When mixture is warm,  add 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar, whisk until smooth...you may add additional tablespoons of confectioner's sugar to reach desired frosting consistency.
add 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans-if desired.

Drizzle warm frosting over coffee cake.
Sprinkle finished cake with  2 Tablespoons of chopped toasted pecans and 
 1/4 tsp coarse salt.


RECIPE:
Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Coffee Cake with 
a Honey Caramel Salted Pecan Frosting


Ingredients:
1 Cup buttermilk
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast - (I used Platinum Red Star brand in a packet)
3 TBS Sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted softened butter

Filling:
4-5 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
(1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans-optional)

Frosting:
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans- optional
**
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted pecans for decoration
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt-for decoration

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Toast pecans if using, (3/4 cup plus two tablespoons total) cool, chop and set aside.
Spray an 8 inch cake pan with non-stick vegetable spray, set aside.

Warm 1 cup of buttermilk

IMPORTANT**
 (If you warm the buttermilk in the
microwave, be sure it is not warmer
 than 120 degrees... if it's too hot...
the yeast will die...and the recipe will not work.
Remember 120 degrees is just a touch warmer 
than body-temperature at 98.6 degrees.
 If you are not sure what 120 degrees
 feels like, use a thermometer.

Add one packet or 1/4 ounce of instant yeast
to the warmed buttermilk.
1/4 ounce = 2 1/4 teaspoons
Add 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Let yeast/buttermilk/sugar mixture sit for 3-5 minutes.

In a stand mixer:

Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Add the buttermilk mixture to flour and mix
on low until dough forms.

While the mixer is on low,
add 5 Tablespoons of softened butter to the
dough, (adding 1 tablespoon at a time until combined).

Once combined, let dough rest in a greased bowl, covered for 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Be sure the dough is resting in a warm, draft free location.

After dough has risen,
Turn the dough out onto a floured piece of parchment paper.

Roll the dough using a floured rolling pin.  
If dough is sticky, add flour, a little at a time until dough is workable.

Roll into a large 1/2 inch thick rectangle
About (9x12)

Make the filling:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
(1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans-optional)

Spread 4 Tablespoons of softened butter over the dough
Sprinkle the butter with the sugar/spice filling. (sprinkle nuts if using)

Cut the dough into four 
3-4 inch strips length wise.

Fold each strip in half. Sugar/cinnamon sides touching.

Start in the center of the cake pan. 
Create a circular shape....much like a singular cinnamon roll.
Place the folded side down, leaving the cut (open side) side facing up.

Follow the center roll by adding additional
folded strips of dough, (placing folded side on bottom of the pan) 
creating a larger circle.

Repeat until the pan is filled with dough.

(Yes, this could be made in a square pan, although the corners
 the would remain empty)

Cover and let dough rise 30-45 minutes

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven
for 30-35 minutes or until the coffee cake is golden brown
and set in the center.

Let cool 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Let coffee cake cool.

For the Frosting:
In a medium saucepan on medium heat melt:
3 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of honey
pinch of salt
Once sugar and butter have melted and are bubbly, add
1/4 cup of heavy cream. 
Let mixture return to a boil and then turn off heat.
Let mixture cool down slightly.

When mixture is warm, add 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar, whisk until smooth...you may add additional tablespoons of confectioner's sugar to reach desired frosting consistency.
add 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans-if desired.

Drizzle warm frosting over coffee cake.
Sprinkle finished cake with  2 Tablespoons of chopped toasted pecans and 
 1/4 tsp coarse salt

Enjoy!!