Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oatmeal Raspberry Orange Scones

Carrie from Bakaholicmama sent out a request for bloggers and cooks who would be interested in joining her in preparing the recipes out of JoyWilson's book Joy the Baker.  I thought for a few minutes and then decided that this sounded like a fun experience.

I had never heard of Joy and thought it would be fun to learn about a new author, writer and blogger.  I ordered her book on Monday and received it on Wednesday (thank you Amazon and Prime shipping).

Carrie asked us to make the first recipe which is, Oatmeal Raspberry Ginger Scones.  You can see that I have made one change already.  I did not have any ginger and my family does not eat a lot of this spice.  I did have grated orange peel leftover from the Orange Bow Knots and I LOVE LOVE LOVE orange and raspberry together. Did I mention LOVE…LOL

I set out to make a gluten free version and they turned out wonderful.

Now, I have had this debate before, in regards to,  the word scone.  In some parts its a biscuit, deep friend, Indian flat bread or an elephant ear.  I know it's confusing and down right mind boggling the differences between the styles of a scone.

Recipe:  Oatmeal Raspberry Orange Scone

Inspired by Joy the Bakers version

Makes 12 scones

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
85g (1 cup) almond meal
93g (1/2 cup) white rice flour
32g (1/4 cup) millet flour
35g (1/4 cup) tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon guar gum (I have made them before without this, they are just a bit crumbly)
1 1/3 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar ( I have used coconut palm sugar with great results)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1 stick cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater or cut into small pieces

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl combine the eggs and buttermilk together and set aside.

3. Whisk together the flours and starch, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt , ginger and nutmeg in a large bowl.

4.  Grate butter into dry ingredients.  Use fingers to crumble together.

5.  Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork. Gently fold in the berries.

6.  Use a spoon to drop scones onto baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet.  If using the cast iron corn muffin pan, spray the insides really well.

7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until their tops are golden. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.  See note below.

NOTE:  With a lot of gluten free baked goods, it is best to let the scones cool on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cookie rack to finish cooling.  

I also added a simple orange glaze to my scones.  I did this because some people find the gluten free flours to taste a bit different.  This was a nice finish for the scone.

Recipe:  Orange Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange rind, grated finely
2 tablespoons orange juice

Mix together until smooth.  Drizzle over each cooled scone OR serve scone with a small bowl of glaze for them to dip each bite.  (I personally do this and it is amazing). 

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Orange Bow Knots and 24 years of Wedded Bliss

Our Engagement pictures were done by a friend of the family.  Our pictures were not a priority for us and it makes me sad when I see the quality and such.  This is something I always counsel brides and grooms about, in the future the cake is all eaten, the flowers are dead, the dress is too small…BUT…your pictures are what you will have your whole life.  Spend your money wisely and hire the BEST photographer you can afford.

24 years ago today on a beautiful Thursday morning in Seattle, Washington, I married my best friend.  It was a beautiful day and we were so lucky to have blue skies and not your typical North West weather of rain, rain and more rain.

Our story is unique because it was a short and a whirlwind courtship.  I met Cory in person on January 19th,  we had our first date January 26th, we were engaged on February 14th and married on April 28th…ALL OF THE SAME YEAR!   YEP, about 3 months total.

Now, I look back and think, "how in the world did we know at such a young age what we wanted?"

I had just turned 20 and Cory was barely home from Japan.  We had nothing.  We did not know what our future would hold.  We just took that leap of faith and it worked.

With our future ahead of us we made plans.  Cory joined the Air Force, went to school and we moved to Austin, TX.  That would be the first of many, many moves for us.  I won't scare you with the double digit number of how often we have moved…LOL

Through out our time together we have remained the best of friends. People ask us what our secret is.  Is there a secret? I don't know other than I know what has worked for us.

Honesty-we are extremely honest with each other. No secrets or lies.
Lots of communication-we are open to each other, we listen, we share, we agree and learn to disagree
Friendship-we laugh, play, learn and find challenges together.
Date Nights-we still date after all these years.
Forgiveness-we have learned that nobody is perfect.  We have good days and bad.  We forgive often.
Acceptance-we never tried to change the other person.  We loved each other as they were.
Love-it was conditional in the beginning because we were young, and we have learned as time passes that to truely love, it must be unconditional and freely given….no strings attached.

This list could be much longer, but those are the basics to what make our relationship work.  I look forward to many more years together.  I still look at him, and get butterflies in my tummy.  His love is so pure and perfect, that at times, I can't believe how blessed I am to have a person that loves me so much.  It took me a long time to feel worthy of this great man in my life.  He saved me.  My life was not easy and I had a lot of issues to deal with when we first met.  He took all of it and patiently cared, loved and endured my time of healing.

I wanted to share a special recipe with you today that would signify a union.  Cory's Mom introduced me to the original recipe many years ago. I have updated it a bit. It is a special treat in our family and they get made once a year.  I usually share them with our neighbors and friends.

A knot has several meanings and is symbolic of love, eternity and togetherness.  I found a few definitions of various knots that I liked.

1. Symmetrical knots that tie into themselves; without beginning or end; are a universalsymbol of the eternity of life, the eternity of nature, and the eternity of love. Original quote here.

2. The knot is an ancient heraldic symbol of longevity, commitment, and permanence.

3. The marriage-knot or knot of Hercules, a strong knotcreated by two intertwined ropes, originated as a healing charm in ancient Egypt, but is best known for it’s use in ancient Greece and Rome as a protective amulet, most notably as a wedding symbol, incorporated into the protective girdles worn by brides, which were ceremonially untied by the new groom. This custom is the likely origin of the phrase “tying the knot.” Original quote found here.

We did tie the knot and for that I am so grateful ever day to have this very special man in my life. 

I love you more than ever Cory!

Recipe:  Orange Bow Knots, makes about 50

1 T. dry yeast
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of warm water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 eggs, beaten
3 T. grated orange peel
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup of melted butter (not hot)
9-11 cups of flour

1 stick of butter for later usage

In a small bowl, add 1 T. of sugar, yeast and warm water.  Let sit until foam is visible on top. (5 minutes)

Add the yeast/sugar/water liquid to the Kitchenaid.  

In your kitchenaid with the dough hook attached, add remaining sugar, salt, butter, milk and 6 cups of flour.  Mix on medium speed until well combined.  

Add the orange juice, orange peel, eggs and butter.  Start adding more flour.  Add one cup at a time.  You want the dough to not stick to the bottom of the bowl.  Depending on the humidity in your area you could easily end up adding 3-5 more cups of flour. 

Set your timer for 10 minutes and let your kitchenaid knead the dough on medium with the attached bread hook.  The dough should not stick to the bottom of the bowl.   If this is happening keep adding a little bit more flour until the 10 minutes is up.

The dough will be heavy yet pliable when you remove it from the bowl.  Transfer it to a large glass bowl that has been oiled with butter. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough double.  Mine took 1 1/2 hours but it was a cool day in MD.  

Lightly dust your work area and dump the dough onto the table.  I use a metal scrapper to cut chunks of the dough so that I can work with smaller pieces.  Melt a stick of butter in a bowl. Roll each piece out into the shape of a rectangle.  I like the measurements to be in the area of 6X12 with the thickness being about 1/2 inch.

I use my pizza cutter to make strips of the rectangle.  With the bowl of melted butter close.  I dip the middle of the strip in the butter and proceed to tie a knot.  You can dip the whole strip into the butter but it's a lot of butter and I find that if I dip a portion of the strip, that by tying the knot the butter spreads to the whole strip anyways.

This will make about 50 knots.  It took 4 cookie sheets for my last batch.  Let the rolls double in size.  Mine took about 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.  You want the rolls to be golden brown on top.  Remove rolls to a wire rack to cool.

Drizzle each roll with an orange icing.

Recipe:  Orange Icing

2 cups of powdered sugar
1 T. orange rind, grated finely
1/3 cup of orange juice

Mix all three ingredients together and drizzle atop the orange bow knots.  Let icing set.

April 28, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gluten Free Waffles

Eating waffles for breakfast is a fond childhood memory of mine.  Pancakes are easier to make. Getting the waffle iron out was a bit more work and reserved for special occasions.  This gluten free version takes me back to being a kid in my home in California.

I expect my waffles to be:  crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and thick.  I feel that this recipe has all three attributes.  In fact my daughter came home from school and had a couple and loved them. I asked her if she would eat them again and she said YES, I said "GOOD, they were gluten free".

There are a few things to remember though.  You can't eat them right out of the waffle iron.  For some reason the mix (and this is normal with a lot of gluten free items) needs to sit and cool slightly. If you don't do this, then it is gummy and not good.  In fact, for me, I prefer to make them and have them cool completely then microwave them for a few minutes.  That is just me though.

Working with gluten free flours and starches takes a bit to understand which flours work well and how much to use.  I did make a batch of waffles with some buckwheat and oat flour that I loved.  The kids thought the flavor was too strong.  I LOVE buckwheat.  When substituting these flours think in terms of percentages.  I try to only replace about 25% of the rice flour with the grain flours (teff, quinoa, oat, etc).

Baking breads, muffins and other goods requires the use of xanthum gum at times.    When you decide to venture into this area of baking I would recommend buying a cook book or searching out recipes on the web.  There are lots of gluten free sites that have wonderful recipes.

Bake to the waffles…..they are good and I hope that you enjoy them too!

I purposely left off the syrup so that you could see how fluffy the waffles were.

Recipe:  Gluten-Free Waffles
Makes 8 waffles

(170 g)1 cup of white rice flour
(81g) 1/2 cup of potato starch
(30g) 1/4 cup of tapioca flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

1.  In a small bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk to blend flour/starch.  In a second bowl combine remaining ingredients and beat well.

2.  Combine the wet into the dry and stir until smooth.

3.  Heat your waffle iron, spray with your favorite cooking spray and add mix.

4.  Cook each waffle until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.

5.  Let cool on a cookie rack until ready to eat.  Store in baggies and refrigerate.  Microwave for a few seconds and serve with syrup.  I have been told they also work well warmed up in the toaster.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sweet Potato Chips with Blue Cheese

Last week my hubby and I went out for dinner and we ended up trying a new restaurant.  One of the things on the menu was an appetizer made of homemade chips, drizzled with a cream sauce, topped with chunks of blue cheese and green onion.  The grand finale was a reduction of balsamic vinegar drizzled across the top.

Now you would think it would have been heavenly.  For me, it was just okay.

I felt that the sauce was bland and they served way more chips than the sauce, so towards the end, you ended up eating just that…chips.  I was a bit disappointed because I felt that they could have taken this dish from a 5 to a 10 with just a few adjustments to the recipe.

Today, I saw my two lonely sweet potatoes and thought I will take their dish from a 5 to a 10.  LOL  and I did.  It was really good and I could have done way more damage, but I was trying to eat a small portion and eat more of the grilled veggies.

Honestly, it was hard…really hard.

Along with these tasty chips, I served grilled veggies and an oven-baked side of cipollini onions drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Veggies tossed with olive oil and added to the grill for 10 minutes on medium heat. If you cook with the lid down, they cook a bit faster and the steam from the veggies helps the cooking process.

I peeled the Cipollini onions and placed them into a glass dish.  Set my oven to 350.  Sprinkled salt and pepper on top of the onions.  I then added olive oil and balsamic vinegar and baked for 30 minutes.  These onions are sweet and bite-size.

I am pretty sure this sauce and the goodies would work great on a big dish of sweet potato fries.  These could be baked or fried depending on how you like to make them for your family.

Recipe:  Sweet Potato Chips (or fries)

1 large sweet potato ( I usually get enough chips for my family of 5)
Canola or Peanut Oil

I use a mandolin to cut my slices very thin.  A little less than a 1/8th of an inch.  If they are too thin, like you can see through them, then they will burn.  If they get too thick it may be hard to get them crispy.

I heat my oil to 350 degrees.  You can use a thermometer to make sure your temp is right.  Just keep in mind that the pot needs to be large enough to handle the chips boiling and bubbling up.

I don't do a lot at the same time.  Maybe 10 slices.  I use a pair of tongs to constantly push the chips into the oil.  If they sit on top then you only cook one side.

I have some paper towels set out on a cookie tray.  Let the chips cool slightly and sprinkle with salt.

NOTE: Sweet potato chips are harder to make than a regular potato chip, or maybe it is just me.  Your sweet potato chips will be soft in the middle and crispy on the edges. There is a fine line between too down and under done.  Just be patient and try a few single chips so that you can see how you like yours cooked.

Recipe:  Blue Cheese Sauce

2 T. butter
2.5 tsp. of flour
1 cup of cream
1/4 cup of milk
1/3 cup of crumbled blue cheese
salt to taste
dash of pepper
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder ( use more if you want a stronger flavor)

In a small pan, melt butter and add flour.   Cook for 1 minute.  Add cream and milk.  Continue cooking on medium, stirring often, until the sauce is creamy and bubbly.

Season sauce with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Add blue cheese and stir.  Turn heat off and let sit for 10 minutes.  This gives the blue cheese a chance to melt slightly into the sauce.

Drizzle on top of chips.  Serve chips with green onions and balsamic vinegar.

OPTION:  Add crisp bacon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pretzels and Cooking with Kids

I have mentioned before that some of my fondest memories with my grandmother and Mom have been cooking together in the kitchen, for holidays and at the restaurant.

I find that as my older kids prepare to leave the nest in the next few years I am more focused on making sure they have recipes available that they can easily find (the blog), they have the basics down (rice, steamed veggies, smoothies, etc) for healthy eating in college and that they have memories to cherish.

I hope that they understand and know that homemade food taste better and it's often times, better for you.  I do realize that life happens and they will have to figure out busy schedules, budgets and roommates and at times food may not be that big of a priority as it is to me.

We have tried to teach them to read labels, shop as local as they can (Farmers Markets, CSA's), choose lean meat, eat plenty of fish, drink lots of water and exercise every day.

Isabella, our 5 year old, loves to cook and be in the kitchen.  As we planned out her homeschooling weeks, I felt it was important that she have some class time in the kitchen.  I needed a recipe that could be done in about an hour, one that she could help with her hands and that would teach her a few things (measuring, portions, time management).

I was thrilled when Melissa from Chindeep shared on her blog that she and her daughter, Gracie had made pretzels.

I would be able to teach Isabella how to measure flour, to read all of the instructions of a recipe FIRST ( I helped her with most of the reading) and how to use a timer.  It was a great first recipe for us.

 I am here to promise you that these pretzels are the best!  There is that taboo word, but, they quite simply are the best that I have ever made.  In my past attempts at making pretzels, they always lacked something….the chewy tender texture.

Well, this is what I love about this recipe.  It taste just like any pretzel you buy at the mall and even better!

The batch makes 12 and Isabella and I were surprised when they quickly disappeared in about 30 minutes. The family wanted more!

Today, we decided to make them again.  This time I was hoping to switch out some of the plain white flour for spelt (a type of whole wheat flour that some people can eat easier than regular whole wheat).  It's always a bit nerve wracking when you take a perfect recipe and try to change things a bit.  You just never know what you will get.

My house soon smelled like fresh wheat bread was baking in the oven.  This was a good sign.  They baked up great.  The taste was just like a wheat pretzel.


Recipe:  Homemade Pretzels
Adapted from Chindeeps recipe

for the dough:

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon of yeast

2 cups warm water

Soda wash:

1/4 cup of baking soda

1 cup of warm water

Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Let rise for about 4 minutes.

In Kitchenaid, add flour and salt.  When yeast has activated, add to the flour.

Mix until combined and then knead for 6 minutes. Turn your oven to 500 degrees.

 I had Isabella measure everything into its own bowl and then I went back and double checked as I added the ingredients to the Kitchen Aid mixer.  She did really well measuring everything.

Let dough rise for 30 minutes.  When a few minutes are left on the rise time, prepare your warm water and baking soda mixture.

 For some reason, my kitchen cupboards are ice cold.  I microwaved my glass bowl for 45 seconds so that the dough went into a warm bowl.

Have two cookie sheets ready to go.  Dump your dough onto your table and cut it into 12 sections.  I usually cut the dough in half, then those halves are split in half again. From the four quarters on the table, you should be able to get three smaller sections which will total 12 small mounds of dough.

Spray your table with Pam and start rolling your dough into long "snakes, about 20 inches. 

Dip each pretzel in the soda wash, and place 6 on each baking sheet.

Have your oven trays so that one is in the middle and one below that.  Add your sheets together.  Let them cook for 4 minutes and then switch the trays.  If you want your pretzels to be darker then just add an extra minute or two.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

 I brushed with butter when they got out of the oven and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar or salt.

Enjoy your day!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Birthday and that AMAZING CAKE

Birthdays come and go and for each one I have, I am so grateful to be around for another year.
I love my family so much. I treasure every year that I get to live on this earth with my three kids and my hubby.

I sometimes wonder how one person, like myself, could be so lucky as to have such incredible individuals in my inner circle.

They motivate, inspire, teach, love and still need me.

I know that they won't always need me and so I cling to this now.  As my kids get older, I have seen minicircles of life.  They start off needing ALL of your help, they become independent and then before you know it, they are asking for advice, a hug or help again.   These are those minicircles of life.  We teach, they go and then we reunite on so many levels.

Heck, I still need my Mom sometimes if only just to talk or receive a smile. Oh, but there was a time when I am sure she was ready for me to move on and have my own life.  

I have not felt this way ever and I warn my husband that I don't know if I ever will.  My kids and I are close and I want us to stay that way.  I think he is secretly going behind my back and telling them they HAVE to move out someday despite what I say….LOL  

So on this day, my birthday, I wanted to spend the whole day together with little interruptions from the outside world, primarily video games.  We played board games, ate great food, went to the beach and laughed.  Some of my favorite things to do!

Drake, Me and my Rye enjoying some "laughing" time.  

My day started off with Dutch Babies made by Cory.  I love these baked pancakes and the flavors of powdered sugar, Irish butter and lemon blended together was the perfect way to start my day.

The recipe can be found here.  I have a gluten-free version that is very good and a regular recipe.

The first game we played was Settlers of Catan.  This is my favorite game ever.  We play the version with the cities and knights.  We have played the game so much that we are in need of purchasing a whole new game…LOL

For lunch, we made Beef and Peppers with rice.  This is a quick and easy meal that can be made on the BBQ (see picture below) or at home on the stovetop.  For Sunday, we used the BBQ and I cooked up the sauce on the stove.  It was a bit healthier because there was not so much oil used in the frying up of the meat.

Having teenagers and a 5 year old can be tough at times.  We do a lot together but sometimes the ages don't allow us to do everything together.  She is too young to play some games and the big kids don't want to play baby games.  So we compromised on this day and went to the beach for an hour, played on the tire swing in our yard and she had a friend over.

I love to eat outside.  When we traveled for our year in the motorhome we ate almost every meal outside and it was divine to be among the birds, trees, and smells of the outdoors.  The kids and hubby bought me plants and flowers to add to our porch with our table and chairs outback.  My oldest daughter always buys me roses and I look forward to this treat from her.


 We finished the day off with my son teaching me to play a card game by the name of Magic.  My family loves this game and I wanted to learn so that I could play with them too.

For dinner I made about 100 Gyoza's for the family.  It really is a family favorite.

The grand finale of the evening was my birthday cake.  I spent all day Saturday preparing the layers and on Sunday I assembled it.  All I can say is…it was incredible!

The recipe can be found at Sprinkle Bakes. The name of the cake is a long one…are you ready: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Devil's Food Cake Cheesecake. 

I have used several of her recipes and they are perfect.  I will warn you that this cake is heavy( as in use two hands to carry it), filling and very rich.  Next time I make this cake I will try to halve it and use smaller pans.

I gave a quarter of the cake to my neighbors across the street and they had nothing but good things to say.  In fact I am slowly winning all of my neighbors over with cakes. LOL  Two more to go.

It was a fabulous day and thank you to my friends and family that emailed, texted, skyped and called me.  You are all wonderful and loved beyond measure!!

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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