Ginger and Collard Green Fried Rice | Recipe & Book Review

There’s something poetic about sitting on your screened in porch under a ceiling fan shelling peas, shucking corn, or chopping collards when you live in the South.  The summer heat seems to slow the pace of everything and I can appreciate that in a world full of rushing from one task to the next.  Give me a radio and a basket of food and I’ll be on the porch all day.

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When Time Inc. Books and NetGalley provided me with an advanced review copy of Todd Richards’s cookbook Soul, I was immediately pulled in by his passion for food and the celebration of his culture and its roots in creating the original Southern cuisine:  Soul food.  (If you’d like to read my full book review, please visit Roots & Reads.)

The chapters are divided by ingredients including collards, tomatoes, seafood, stone fruits, and melon.  The recipes included evolve from American South traditional to a cultural fusion of ingredients to create unique dishes.

The most notable recipes in Soul for me are:  Ginger and Collard Green Fried Rice, Hot & Spicy Zucchini Slaw, and Fried Green Tomatillos.

I wanted to share here with y’all my favorite recipe that I’ve prepared and taste tested so far!

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Ginger and Collard Green Fried Rice
from Soul:  A Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards
Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch young collard greens (1/2 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 extra large chicken egg or 1 duck egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 jalapeño, very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Clean your collards well in cold water.  Stack 4 leaves on top of each other and remove stems with a sharp knife, then shred the stems and leaves.  Rinse again in cold water and drain well.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium pan or skillet over medium heat.  Break egg into pan and cook 4 minutes, gently shaking occasionally to entire egg doesn’t stick.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper before turning the egg over and cooking 2 more minutes.  Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in pan over medium heat.  Add shallot, garlic, and ginger stirring occasionally until shallot is clear.  Stir in rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin.  Stir in the cooked rice and cover, simmering until rice is heated through.  Uncover and drizzle with sesame oil.  Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer fried rice to a serving bowl.  Cut fried egg into strips.  Top rice with egg strips then garnish with scallions, jalapeño, sesame seeds, and (optional) red pepper flakes.

Richards suggests serving this dish with: grilled seafood, grilled meats, poultry; spicy or citrus dishes.

My note:  I used 2 teaspoons minced garlic because I didn’t have fresh garlic cloves.  I used a 1/2 teaspoon of refrigerated ground ginger since I didn’t have fresh ginger.  I also didn’t have a shallot so I used a quarter of a small Vidalia onion thinly diced.

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Many thanks to Time Inc. Books and NetGalley for a digital ARC to review.  Soul:  A Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards is available in stores now!

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Clyde’s Peach Berry Skillet Pie | Recipe

Foster and Lela are kind enough to open their farm to visitors a couple times each year and we never miss a chance to walk the rows of vegetables, talk with them about food and animals, and take a hayride or two.

We grow a decent amount of our vegetables at home but what we don’t have room for, like corn, we purchase from Clyde’s Fresh Produce.  I love that we’re able to purchase locally grown food, free of pesticides, from people who are passionate about serving their community.  It’s also a bonus that we’re keeping money in our community by supporting local folks!  If you live in the CSRA, you can purchase produce from Clyde’s online through Augusta Locally Grown, or find them Saturdays from 8am – 2pm at The Augusta Market.

The day we visited their farm in Grovetown, I grabbed a basket of peaches and a quart of strawberries before we left.  I don’t think there’s anything better than the scent of ripe peaches and strawberries in the spring/early summer.  I decided to combine the two in a quick skillet pie.

I think about Beverly Hills 90210 every time I eat a peach.  You remember The Peach Pit, right?  So much drama.  Dylan foreverrrrr.  Let’s hum the theme song while we feast our eyes on these gorgeous fruits…

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I decided to use my double pie crust recipe because I was going to take the time to make a lattice pie crust.  If you don’t want to do that, you can always freeze half your dough from this recipe to use for another pie at a later date.  If you don’t do a top crust, just fold the crust over the filling at the edges and call it a crostata if that floats your boat.  Either way, it’s still a pie in a skillet but the word crostata just rolls off the tongue.

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I was going to do a lattice pie crust but my four year old decided she wanted to give it a try.  Some people might apologize for putting this photo on a food blog but I happen to think she nailed it!  Proud mom over here.  My dream of having a mother/daughter bakery may come true!  (It’ll be called The Sugarbakers after another hit show from back in the day: Designing Women).

Clyde’s Peach Berry Skillet Pie

Double pie crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Whisk flour and salt together.  Make a well in the center.
  2. Pour vegetable oil and milk into the well and stir until combined.
  3. Roll dough into ball on wax paper.
  4. Divide in half.
  5. Roll one piece of dough out between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. Remove top layer of wax paper and flip the dough into your 10.5 inch cast iron skillet.
  7. Press dough about half way up the sides.
  8. Brush some of your beaten egg on to the dough to prevent a soggy crust.
  9. Add filling.

Pie filling

  • 6-8 peaches in 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if huge)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • honey
  • sprig of chopped rosemary, lemon balm, chopped pecans (all optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Add peaches and strawberries to a large bowl.
  3. Mix in balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and flour.
  4. Pour filling into pie crust.
  5. Optional: add sprig of chopped rosemary, a couple sprigs of lemon balm, or chopped pecans over top of filling if you’re feeling fancy.
  6. Either fold the edges of your pie crust over the filling or use the other half of the pie crust recipe to place over the top.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool for 20 minutes and drizzle with honey before serving.

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And here’s some photos from our visit to Clyde’s!  Thanks to Foster and Lela and the family for a wonderful afternoon, we appreciate everything they do for our community.

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Haven was thrilled to meet 3 day old Penny Mae!
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I see horseback riding lessons in our near future!
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Debbi Wolfarth from Eat Local CSRA was on site to teach us how to make strawberry crepes.  I prettied mine up with some edible accessories.
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A few of the rows of cucumbers, strawberries, and greens.
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Greens, beans, onions, and corn.

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Black Tea Cupcakes with Honeysuckle Frosting | Recipe

 

Every spring I find a way to use the fragrant honeysuckle that climbs around our house.  If I could bottle up that smell I would because it’s incredible.  One year I made a Honeysuckle Breeze Cake by Hannah Queen and last year I made my own Honeysuckle Syrup for sweet tea.  This year I decided to try combining sweet tea and honeysuckle into a cupcake.  After tweaking the recipe a couple times, I feel confident enough to share it with you!

 

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We started by collecting two cups of honeysuckle to prepare the syrup.

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We put 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and brought it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, we picked through the two cups of honeysuckle we collected, removing debris and pinching off green steams, then packed the flowers tightly in a pint mason jar.  Once the sugar water was boiling, we poured it over the flowers in the jar and left it on the counter to cool.
After your cupcakes have baked and cooled, you’ll strain the syrup through a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a clean pint mason jar.  You’ll have a lot of honeysuckle syrup left over after making the frosting (yay!) and can store it in the fridge safely for a few weeks –if it lasts that long!

While the honeysuckle syrup was cooling, we started our batter.  A dear friend of mine sent me her family’s tea cake recipe last year and I’ve since baked it several times.  When I first had the idea for tea and honeysuckle cupcakes, her tea cake instantly came to mind!  I have adjusted a few ingredient amounts and added tea, but her original recipe is absolutely the inspiration for this dessert.

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Black Tea Cupcakes with Honeysuckle Frosting
(makes one 9-inch cake or 18 cupcakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons black tea, fresh brewed and strong (I use Luzianne)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups self-rising flour

 

Directions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one a a time, beating after each addition.
  3. Beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Add self-rising flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Once dough has just come together, add milk and tea.
  6. Mix until batter is smooth.
  7. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes.
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  10. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. (see recipe below)

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Frosting ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons of honeysuckle syrup (follow the link to simple directions or read above)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and honeysuckle syrup until light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, mixing slightly in between.
  3. Add the pinch of salt and mix on low for several minutes until you reach the desired frosting consistency.

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Cornmeal Catfish with Tartar Sauce | Recipe & Review

Southern from Scratch:  Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes by Ashley English is in stores tomorrow, April 24, 2018.  Visit Roots & Reads for my full review of this lovely recipe book here.  Thanks to Roost Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC to review!

I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to test out several of the recipes in this book over the past month, including the one featured here.  Catfish fried lightly in cornmeal with a tangy tartar sauce and a side of hushpuppies is a meal that will be well-received at most any Southern table!

“The fish fry is pretty ubiquitous across the South.  What distinguishes my fry, though, is a light coating of oil, not a full deep dive (that’s reserved for the hush puppies served alongside).  And since hushpuppies and tartar sauce are as classic a combo as Fred and Ginger, Mickey and Minnie, and Dolly Parton and wigs, I’m also offering up a special sauce.”
-Ashley English

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Cornmeal Catfish with Tartar Sauce
Recipe by Ashley English from the book Southern From Scratch
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the tartar sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • several dashes of hot sauce

For the catfish

  • 1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup fine-grind cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs catfish fillets
  • Light olive or peanut oil for the pan
  • Hushpuppies, to serve (see my own recipe at the end of this post)
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

 

Directions:

  1. Make the tartar sauce.  Whisk the mayonnaise, relish, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, and hot sauce in a small bowl until fully combined.  Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator until serving time and use within 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Mix the medium- and fine-grind cornmeal in a shallow dish with the garlic, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
  3. Whisk the eggs with the hot sauce in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. One by one, coat the catfish fillets in the egg mixture, then lightly dredge them in the cornmeal mixture.  Set aside on a large plate.
  5. Lightly coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with oil and warm over medium heat.  Add the catfish fillets and cook in batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness.  Add oil to the pan between batches when necessary, to prevent sticking.  Serve immediately with tartar sauce, hushpuppies, and lemon wedges.

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I remember many fish fry events when I was a kid.  My dad would go fishing with his dad and brother and they’d usually bring home a cooler full and we’d spend the evening frying up the fish with hushpuppies.  My dad was of the “go big or go home” variety when it comes to frying hushpuppies, so ours were always way bigger than you find in a restaurant.  I try to keep mine around golf ball size to balance out a full meal.

Here’s how I make my hushpuppies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup self rising flour
  • 1/2 cup self rising yellow cornmeal mix
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced well
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and diced (optional)
  • whole milk

 

Directions:

  1. In a cast iron skillet, add peanut oil to warm over medium heat.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper together.
  3. Add onion and jalapeño to the mixture.
  4. Add just enough whole milk to wet the batter completely and stir well.
  5. Working in batches, drop teaspoons of batter into a skillet of heated peanut oil until browned.
  6. Place hushpuppies on paper towels to soak up excess grease, then serve and enjoy!

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Winter Madeleines | Recipe

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Madeleines are probably my favorite treat to bake.  All it takes is a few basic baking ingredients and a $10-ish madeleine pan to make a lovely cake-like cookie.

I regularly make lemon (my personal favorite), pumpkin spice, blueberry and honey madeleines but I was looking for something a bit more festive for Christmas when I found an image of deep red madeleines while scrolling on Pinterest.  Swoon.

Looks like winter, tastes like summer.
(I started thinking of the song Drops of Jupiter after I typed that because of the line “She acts like summer and walks like rain” and so I had to look up who did it.  It was a band called Train.  I didn’t realize they’re still making music.  Do you guys remember that show Behind the Music on VH1?  Hmm, this makes two posts in a row where I’ve mentioned something VH1 related.  Weird.  I don’t even think they play music anymore.)

Wait, where was I?
Rosemary and strawberry blended together in the middle of winter?  
Yes, please!

Living in the deep South means I can wear shorts on a Monday in December and have a forecast for snow on Friday because we’re ridiculous like that.  Since Georgia actually received some snow fall this week (not my area, thankfully) and I’m puttering around the kitchen in wool socks now, it felt like a great time to use up some strawberries we froze this summer and remember the scorching 90+ degree heat and humidity.

These cookies are beautiful, delicious with a unique flavor thanks to the rosemary simmered in butter, and you can dress them up several different ways!

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Rosemary & Strawberry Madeleines
from A CupCake For Love

(makes 24)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10-15 drops of red food coloring (optional, just add if you want the dark red)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add rosemary and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off stove and remove pan from heat, letting rosemary butter rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Using a blender, puree the frozen strawberries until thick.
  5. In the bowl of your mixer, add the eggs and sugar; blend on low until foamy.
  6. In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  7. Add strawberry puree to the egg mix.
  8. Add the flour mix to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Pour your melted butter through a strainer into the mixing bowl.  (You want the strainer to catch all of the chopped rosemary so it doesn’t get in your batter.)
  10. Optional:  Add food coloring a few drops at a time, stirring between for your desired red.
  11. Put your batter into the fridge for 20 minutes and preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you’re waiting.
  12. Fill each madeleine mold 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  13. Cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack.
  14. Once madeleines are cool, you can add icing/glaze and/or powdered sugar to dress them up.

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Oh Snap! Gingerbread Cookies | Recipe

As Andy Williams croons, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
I had to look up who sings that song because I just assume every Christmas song on the radio is sung by Bing Crosby.  Or that one Mariah Carey did in the early 90’s that will apparently never go away.

There was also that time Bing Crosby and David Bowie sang Little Drummer Boy together.  I have the VH1 channel of my childhood to thank for introducing me to that gem.

So, Christmas= lots of baking.  We usually make sugar cookies and lather them in icing and sprinkles but this year I thought it’d be fun to try gingerbread cookies.

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The biggest issue folks seem to have is finding cookie recipes that won’t spread out when they bake.  If I’m making cookies without a shape then I don’t really mind; if one cookie comes out the size of three, I can still say I only ate one cookie so there’s less guilt.  That’s my pro baking tip of the month.
But when you’re working with cute cookie cutters the worst thing is pulling your cookies from the oven only to discover they have oozed into some unidentifiable shape.

I tested three recipes and did some tweaking to create this recipe and I can assure you that these cookies will hold their shape beautifully!  The only problem you’ll have is making sure the legs don’t snap off when you remove them from the cookie sheet or while decorating…  which is how I came up with the name Oh Snap! Gingerbread Cookies.

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Oh Snap! Gingerbread Cookies
(you’ll get about 24  gingerbread folks but that’ll change depending on size/shape of your cutter choices)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and whisk the first five ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Using a mixer, cream together the butter and and brown sugar in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the egg and mix.
  4. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon extract (the extract is just an extra flavor touch but not necessary).  Mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour your flour mixture from step 1 slowly into the mixing bowl until dough forms.
  6. Roll dough out on wax paper (or a floured surface) to 1/4″ or 1/2″ thickness.
  7. Use your cookie cutters to create the desired shapes; carefully peeling and placing them on greased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 9 minutes at 375 degrees.
  9. Transfer cookies (carefully, unless you’re going for the snapped limbs on your gingerbread people) to a wire rack to cool before decorating.
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I love a golden brown cookie.
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Some cookies did not make it off the cookie sheet with all limbs intact.

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Any time I photograph food there’s guaranteed to be a photo on the memory card of my daughter’s blurry hand darting into the frame.
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Here’s my decorated Oh Snap Gingerbread Dude.  I’m a minimalist when it comes to cookie decorating.  Maybe one day I’ll get fancy.
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My favorite Christmas cookie tin of Norman Rockwell’s “The Discovery.”  It gave me the idea to recreate the scene with my daughter this year!
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My painterly photo of Haven, inspired by Norman Rockwell.

 

Pumpkin Latte Streusel Muffins | Recipe

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I guess it was around five years ago that the pumpkin spice craze began.  Fall came and with it that year (and every year since):  leggings, oversized sweaters and every food and drink item known to man suddenly flavored with pumpkin.  Each fall the world suddenly has a sixth Spice Girl.

While pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, my husband won’t eat pie.  Any kind of pie.
The weirdo.
Just kidding.
(But seriously, what a weirdo.)

What I’m trying to say is that if I make a pumpkin pie and I’m the only one in the house who will eat it, then I will eat it.
All of it.
In one sitting.

Since this is the season of pumpkin flavored everything, I have plenty of options to include it in our Thanksgiving meal.
My brainstorming led me to remember some amazing blueberry muffins with a streusel topping a friend of mine gave me the recipe for last summer after Haven and I picked a ridiculous amount of blueberries, then while looking at waffle recipes (because we finally added a waffle iron to our kitchen appliances!) I found a recipe for pumpkin chai waffles and that made me think of a chai latte.
Then it hit me:  why not put pumpkin and a chai latte into a muffin and top it with streusel?

I  used the base for my sweet friend’s muffin recipe, added pumpkin puree with chai spices and topped it with a traditional streusel to create a Thanksgiving breakfast or after dinner dessert.

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Pumpkin Latte Streusel Muffins
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (vegetable/canola oil will be just fine also!)

Chai spice mix:

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tiny pinch of black pepper

Streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray your muffin pan with cooking spray before adding the muffin liners.
  2. In your mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, milk, vanilla, and oil.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together all the spices for your chai spice mix, then add the flour, brown sugar and baking soda and stir together.
  4. Add your bowl of dry ingredients to the mixing bowl of wet ingredients.  Set your mixer to stir (or the lowest setting) until just combined.
  5. Using a teaspoon, scoop the batter into the muffin liners, filling each about half full.
  6. Make your streusel topping by mixing together the butter, sugars, and cinnamon until sugar begins to dissolve.  Add flour a cup at a time and stir until you get a dry paste (like the consistency of wet sand).
  7. Add streusel topping to the top of each muffin.  Make sure you get lots of crumbs to cover the batter of each completely.
  8. Place muffin pan in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Muffins are done when you stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean.
  10. I chose to pop mine back in the oven under the broiler for 1 minute to give the tops a nice golden/dark brown coloring.  Totally up to you if you want to do that.  If you choose to, make sure it goes no longer than a minute or you will have some burned muffins!

Store leftovers in an airtight container and re-heat muffins for 10 – 12 seconds in the microwave.

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This tea towel is amazing, right?  I started collecting them and now they don’t fit in the tiny kitchen drawer designated for kitchen cloths/towels and my husband may think I have a problem.  He’ll probably still build me a special cubby for them because he’s an enabler though.

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Do you like my well-loved muffin pan?  I bought 2 muffin pans about 9 years ago and I still have them.  Some people don’t like how dirty/stained they get over time…
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but it makes me feel legit, like I bake lot and know what I’m doing.
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Can you really trust someone whose muffin pans are spotless?

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Hocus Pocus | Spellbook Brownies Recipe

Halloween is a two month long celebration around here!  We start in September to get the maximum enjoyment out of it.  Halloween movies are in heavy rotation around the house:  Monster House and The Adventures of Ichabod for the kiddo; Rear Window and Beetlejuice for me.  Also, did you know Once Bitten is on Hulu?  That made my week when I noticed it in the line up recently!

My daughter Haven discovered how amazing Hocus Pocus is last year so we had fun working on a craft for it this year.  While scouring the internet for crafty ideas, I came across Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for Spellbook Brownies and I knew immediately they had to be made.

We ended up making this silhouette of the Sanderson sisters on card stock and using a frame from Dollar Tree.  These are plastic frames but I love the shape/design so much I bought up all they had in the store that day (because you can feel rich when shopping in Dollar Tree; make it rain with those dollar bills!) and I may have went back and purchased more when they restocked.  Don’t judge me.  Please.

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Twist the bones
and bend the back
Itch-it-a-cop-it-a
Mel-a-ka-mys-tic-a
Trim him of
his baby fat
Itch-it-a-cop-it-a
Mel-a-ka-mys-tic-a
Give him fur,
black as black
Just. Like. This…

So it took about 10 minutes to complete our Hocus Pocus silhouette.  I have to keep crafts short and sweet since Haven’s attention span is still lacking and everything becomes “sooooo boring” after 5 minutes.

One thing she will be somewhat patient for is sweet stuff.  Especially chocolate.  And when I told her this brownie recipe called for chocolate brownies dipped in melted chocolate, I had her undivided attention.

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The candy eyes are what make these brownies!  I found the candy eyes and a 2 pack of black food writer markers (for drawing eyelashes) at Wal-Mart and I’m pretty sure I spent under $4 total.

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  • If you don’t have black food dye or activated charcoal on hand for the frosting, you can use 10 drops each of blue, red, and yellow food dye mixed together (though it will dry to more of a gray color).  It would work in a pinch if you’re not patient enough to wait for a trip to the store.

  • If you don’t have coconut oil, vegetable or canola oil would work just as well!

  • I skipped the instant coffee granules and the taste was still incredible, so just know you can choose to skip that ingredient if you’re not into coffee (I’m not going to judge you) or don’t have any available.

  • I found a 16 ounce microwavable tray of semi sweet chocolate in the baking aisle of Wal-Mart that was perfect for melting.  One less dirty dish in the kitchen and what you don’t use on the recipe can be placed in the refrigerator for later!

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I let my daughter help make the icing and decorate the brownies with it so mine aren’t quite as lovely as those created by Half Baked Harvest but the taste is phenomenal and the theme is still obvious.
This is truly an excellent recipe with straightforward directions that even people unsure about their baking skills can pull off without a hitch.
You can find the link to this Half Baked Harvest recipe at the bottom of this post!

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Come little children,
I’ll take thee away,
Into a land of enchantment.

Come little children,
The time’s come to play,
Here in my garden of magic.

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Oh look,
another glorious morning.
Makes me sick!

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I put a spell on you
and now you’re mine…

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You can find the recipe here at the Half Baked Harvest blog!

And while we’re discussing Halloween, here’s the annual Halloween photo I created for my daughter, inspired by Ray Bradbury’s books The Halloween Tree and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

“And if it’s around October twentieth and everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bed-sheets around corners.”

-Ray Bradbury

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Apple Butter Spice Loaves | Recipe

Since I posted this apple butter recipe I’ve used the last couple years, I’ve had several friends ask:  “The apple butter sounds great… but what can I do with it?”

I’m the type of person that’s happy to to eat apple butter straight out of the jar with a spoon or spread it on a piece of toast as a quick snack, though I have found several other awesome ways to use it in the last few years!

  1. Apple Butter Pancakes.  You can add apple butter into your pancake batter OR you can put the apple butter on top of your pancakes in place of (or in addition to!) syrup.  I’ve tried it both ways and they both rock.
  2. Apple Butter Pork Chops.  Sounds crazy, right?  I beg to differ!  Follow that link to see what I did.  (Shocker:  My hubby actually ate it and liked it!)
  3. Apple Butter Snickerdoodles!  You can add about 1/2 cup of apple butter to any snicker doodle recipe to give it some extra “umph”.  You know what I’m talking about!  …Right?
  4. Apple Butter BBQ Meatballs or Ribs.  Sounds crazy just like the pork chops.  Honestly though, apple butter is excellent mixed with your favorite BBQ sauces.  It adds a subtle additional flavor to mix things up a bit.
  5. Apple Butter Spice Cake/Bread.  I found a recipe last year for a spice cake that included apple butter and made a mental note to try to create a new recipe using my mini loaf pan.

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Apple Butter Spice Loaves
(makes 8 mini loaves or 1- 9×5 loaf)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (*see my note below if you don’t have buttermilk)
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups apple butter

    *Note:  If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tsp white vinegar to 1/2 cup of whole milk and let it set for 5 minutes.  Works like a charm!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray your mini loaf or 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and buttermilk  and stir until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and all the spices.
  5. Add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until it begins to come together.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and the apple butter, mixing until combined.
  6. Pour batter into your loaf pan.  (If using mini loaf pan, fill each about half to 3/4 full.)
  7. Bake 40 minutes if using a mini loaf pan.  Bake 60 minutes if using a 9×5 loaf pan.

 

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A friend told me she plans to can apple butter and give out jars as part of Christmas gifts this year and I love the idea!  I think these mini loaves would also be a wonderful gift idea; you can package them in a variety of ways and include a jar of apple butter to smother on top!

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Jack Skellington Blueberry Pie | Recipe

I love all things Halloween, including Jack Skellington.  I also like pie.  A lot.

So when I saw this photo floating around the web, I thought it was worth risking a Pinterest fail to recreate.

Using my favorite double pie crust recipe (it’s crazy easy), I created my own version of Jack Skellington pie using this blueberry pie filling from Dinner with Julie.

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I’m one of those people who forget to pre-heat the oven so I took this photo while I waited.

Double pie crust recipe

You’ll need an 8 inch pie pan and some wax paper

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup whole milk

Directions

  1. Whisk flour and salt together in a bowl and create a well in the center.
  2. Pour the vegetable oil and milk in the well, stirring everything together.
  3. Once dough comes together, knead gently on a sheet of wax paper.
  4. Divide dough in to two parts.
  5. Roll one piece of dough out between two sheets of wax paper.  Since we’re using an 8 inch pie pan in this recipe, roll the dough out about 10 inches (always give an extra 2 inches so it can climb the sides of the pan).
  6. Remove top sheet of wax paper and flip the dough in to your pie pan using the bottom sheet of wax paper.
  7. Pour in the pie filling (seeing filling recipe below).
  8. Roll out the second piece of dough between two sheets of wax paper then remove top piece.
  9. Use a knife to cut out your Jack Skellington face.
  10. Pick up using the wax paper and flip on top of the pie filling.
  11. Trim excess edges around the pie pan and seal gently using the tines of a fork.
  12. Bake in the pre-heated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes (until the crust is a nice golden brown).

 

Blueberry Pie Filling recipe from Dinner with Julie

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frozen blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer and stir often, cooking until mixture thickens and blueberries start to bubble.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  4. Place in 8 inch prepared pie pan.

 

 

I took these random photos with my phone while making the pie because it didn’t occur to me until afterward that this could be a fun blog post to share.

 

 

 

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