Sweet Tooth

white_denim
This sweet number can and *should* be yours! White Denim Apron

If you are like me and you like to keep your kitchen towel nearby, check out my gorgeous full apron in white denim. The roomy pockets in pretty eggshell blue print are large enough to hold some kitchen utensils and your phone, and a handy strap from which to hang your towel.

white_denim_detail

What a bright and lovely apron for Easter or as a gift for Mother’s Day. This apron is sweet but not overpowering, much like Mini Chocolate Pecan Cheesecakes; perfect little bites to satisfy your sweet tooth, but won’t blow your dietary goals.

Sweet Tooth

Noun

  1. a liking or craving for candy or other sweets.

As for myself, I have a full head of sweet teeth and they usually crave dark chocolate in some form or other right after dinner. If, like me, you try to attain a healthy balance of diet and lifestyle, but want to satisfy your sweet tooth, try one of these wee bites. They keep well in the fridge, covered, for a few days, so you don’t have to eat them all at once. Notice I said “don’t have to.” The pecans baked into the crust give a rich, round taste to the entire bite, and the chocolate ganache topping provide just the right amount of gooey goodness.

minicheese

I found this recipe in one of my favorite blogs, My Baking Addition, and here is a link to the recipe: Mini Chocolate Pecan Cheesecakes

 

May all your sweet cravings be satisfied and your towel remain nearby.

Jamie

Advertisements

Ode to Mom and Banana Nut Bars

Cold Saturday mornings in northern Minnesota were frequently devoted to baking with mom. Countless 13×9 pans of her Banana Nut Bars were the result of our Saturday morning forays.

lena_mitt_l
The Lena Oven Mitt, available here: CloverSueStore on etsy

The beautiful fabric in my Lena Oven Mitt is as sunny as mom’s Minnesota kitchen. Under the outer fabric lies a heart of heat resistant insulation and a layer of cotton batting. This mitt will make your gloomy winter mornings brighter.

And don’t forget your matching Lena Hot Pads and beautiful half-skirt apron!

My three granddaughters came for a “sleep over” this weekend, and honoring mom’s tradition, we enjoyed our cold Saturday morning together in my Kansas kitchen, with Banana Nut Bars. The first and most amusing step is mashing!

mashingbananas

Once the girls mashed the bananas, and I quote, “like baby food, right Grandma?” everything comes together in one bowl. Easy cleanup!

bananabarsbatter

The girls add the ingredients to the mixing bowl themselves. They also take turns using the hand mixer. No need for the oversized Kitchenaid for this recipe.

Fold in the nuts by hand. Two or three sets of hands might be needed, depending on the number of kiddos helping.

foldingnuts

Spray a 13×9″ pan with baking spray, spread the batter within, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Voila! My 5-year old granddaughter actually said “voila” this weekend, which cracked me up.

banananutbars

You can see the tender crumb and almost smell the banana goodness. Don’t toss out the last two or three ripe bananas; instead, create a fun memory with  some kiddos in your life.

With love from me and granddaughters, we present Banana Nut Bars.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-1-10-37-pm
(Right-click and save this image for your own recipe card)

Christmas Party Sangria

For Brunch, Linner, Happy Hour and Game Day Parties

 

christmassangria

I was bred in the great white north, also known as Minnesota. In that part of the country in the 1960s and ’70s it was popular to serve cocktails at all hours of the day, even for breakfast. It was a special treat for me and my sister to be able to swizzle drinks and “serve” the adults. This peculiar youth cocktail service was highlighted in the recent television series ‘Mad Men.’ As I aged, Mom would allow a tiny taste of wine during a holiday meal.

My family relocated to Missouri in the late 1970s, where I graduated high school, married and settled. Recently Dear Hubs and I took a road trip to Minneapolis and Duluth, where we gaped, slack jawed, at the breakfast menus of the local restaurants. Every menu, and I mean every menu, included alcoholic breakfast beverages. Plural. And not just Bloody Mary’s (although the Bloody Mary offerings at one Minneapolis eatery included at least a dozen varieties). I passed on the Bloody Mary’s, never having been a huge fan. But if we are talking about brunch for a special occasion, make mine Sangria, please.

Score a touchdown with my Christmas Party Sangria. The warm flavors of cinnamon and spice are transformed into a cool, boozy refreshment when served on the rocks. Fortified with spiced rum and cinnamon sticks, it is so bloody good – and without a hint of Bloody Mary! Try it with a Merlot, Apothic Dark (one of my go-to wines) or a Spanish red. My Christmas Party Sangria recipe is provided below, but first this word from our sponsor:

christmaswinebags
Check out my pretty wine bags and other crafty items here!

When taking and/or presenting a bottle of wine or spirits as a gift for your holiday host or hostess, wrap it up in a festive Christmas Wine Bag. This bag is sure to bring a smile to the recipient. It is fully lined, has gusseted bottoms to help it stand up, and comes complete with ribbons and miniature ornaments. Skol!

Christmas Party Sangria

2 bottles Merlot or other dark red wine

1/2 cup sugar

10 cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1-1/2 cups spiced rum

4 to 6 oranges, sliced

2 handfuls fresh cranberries

1 liter ginger ale

Garnishes: Fresh Orange Slices, Red and Green Apple Slices, Sliced Starfruit

Directions: In a large pot, combine wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and cloves. Gently simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Add rum, orange slices and cranberries. Pour into a sealable pitcher or container. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, fill glasses with ice and add an ounce of ginger ale to each. Top with Sangria and stir (or as I like to call it, swizzle). Add garnishes as desired.

 

Ode to Dad and Easy Bake Ovens

zucchinibread

Like many young home cooks, I cut my chops on my beloved Easy Bake Oven. If Dad was in town, I could always count on him to taste with much enthusiasm the little cakes cooked by the heat of a light bulb. “Wow, delicious” he would say, as I swelled with pride. But the Easy Bake went by the wayside when my palate graduated to a better quality of baking.

The warm fragrance of cinnamon takes me back to one particular snowy Minnesota morning, baking and hanging out with my friend Carla and her mom, Mrs. Halvorson. It might have been Halstrom or Gunderson. Which ever ‘-son’ it was (mine was Hanson), we grated zucchini by hand and played Mystery Date while we patiently waited for our breads to bake, the house filling with heavenly aromas. I was captivated with the transformation of the lowly vegetable into something decidedly un-vegetable like: Zucchini Bread. This was real food, not Easy Bake offerings. Mom let me serve the Zucchini Bread for Thanksgiving that year, and it graced our Thanksgiving table many years thereafter.

Here I present Zucchini Bread, Two Ways. The chocolate version is terrific with extra chocolate chips tossed in. I prefer to omit the nuts in the chocolate version. But my favorite is the regular Zucchini Bread (see the Note below directions) with walnuts. Cinnamon is the only spice needed; nutmeg or cloves would only muddy it up. Try Penzey’s Spices for their excellent cinnamon varieties and vanilla extracts. Keep your electric mixer in the cabinet for this recipe. Stirring with a spoon feels good, fosters baking with care and love, and makes for a good kid-friendly recipe. I somehow still manage to make a huge mess in the kitchen, nonetheless. Protect your hands and countertops with my beautiful, heavy duty Thanksgiving-themed and Christmas-themed hot pads, sewn also with care and love.

Because Thanksgiving is upon us once again, I am sending up my thanks to Hasbro, for its Easy Bake Oven and memories kept, and to Dad, for being a good sport and memories plentiful.

 

Zucchini Bread, Two Ways

Ingredients

2 C. all-purpose flour                        1 C. vegetable oil

1 tsp. baking powder                         1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda                               2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 tsp. salt                                               ¾ C. semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. ground cinnamon                    2 C. grated zucchini

3 eggs                                                       1 C. chopped walnuts (optional)

1 C. white sugar

1 C. packed brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9×5-inch loaf pans; set aside.

Finely chop the unsweetened chocolate and place in a double boiler (or use two saucepans), and melt over simmering hot water, stirring until smooth; remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl combine eggs, white and brown sugars, oil and vanilla; beat well. Stir in the melted chocolate until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, combining until incorporated. Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips and chopped nuts; stir until combined. Batter will be thick.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared loaf pans; bake for 50 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

NOTE: For Zucchini Bread, omit unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips, and increase cinnamon by ½ teaspoon.

 

 

Holiday Baking

My friend and neighbor invited me to a Women’s group at her church, a gathering to center the heart and prepare for Christmas. I will be attending a sewing retreat at that time so I regrettably had to decline her gracious invitation. Nevertheless, I find myself preparing for the holidays by baking some num-nums to freeze now, and thaw & frost before the Big Event. For a delightful breakfast or brunch, these bars are perfect with a hot cuppa. For a holiday dessert, serve with Spiked Coffee, recipe below. Your Christmas baking and hosting will be all the merrier with The Helen Apron and The Helen Hot Pads, featured in this photo. Or, give them as gifts to an exceptional human.

december-header

Pumpkin Bars

  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 16 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 C. cooking oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts, optional
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 15x10x1″ baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves. Stir in the pumpkin, oil, eggs and nuts. Spread into prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool on wire racks. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Store, covered, in the fridge.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 C. sifted powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until light & fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining sugar to make frosting of spreading consistency.

If you have leftover frosting, use it to create a kid-friendly and cloversue-approved treat: spread graham crackers with frosting and dust with a wee bit of cinnamon sugar or red & green sprinkles.

Spiked Coffee

In a coffee mug, dissolve 1/2 to 1 tsp. of sugar in a small amount of hot coffee. Add an ounce (or two) of brandy or bourbon, then fill with hot coffee. Stir. Top with a dollop of whipped and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

 

Mmm. Feeling warm and toasty yet?

Cheers,

Jamie

Meatless Mondays

Our friends Shayna and Phil, and another friend, Catherine, have gone vegetarian and/or vegan, and from this I draw inspiration to join the Meatless Mondays movement. Animal processing consumes huge amounts of resources, especially water. The health benefits of eating less meat protein are documented, although the veracity of which are best left for another date and time to research. That said, Dear Husband has been a willing participant and a good sport at tasting the veggie recipes that I’ve found, tweaked and made my own. Thus far we have been impressed and have not left the table feeling hungry. If you are game, here is a fall-time stew that nourishes the soul and delights the taste buds. Legumes (in this case, soybeans) combined with whole grains create complete proteins. Bon appetite!

egyptian-edamame-stew Egyptian Stew

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen shelled edamame (about 3 cups), thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, diced into large pieces
  • 1/2 of a cauliflower head, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro or mint
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add edamame and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium to medium heat. Add onion and sauté until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, cauliflower and sauté another 3 minutes or until the onion starts to brown. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, then stir in broth in small increments until a stew-like consistency is reached. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, adding more broth if needed.

Stir in the edamame and heat through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lemon juice. (Note: I go light on the fresh herbs and lemon juice.)

4 servings. Serve over whole grain rice, quinoa or couscous. Top with crumbled feta cheese, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Yum! Trust.

While waiting for the dish to finish cooking, serve Gin & Tonic cocktails wearing your Lucy Apron and Lucy Hot Pads for a romantic Meatless Monday experience.

lucy_apron         lucy_pads_f

Best,

Jamie

Strong Women

Doris

Dear Husband’s Aunt Doris hosted all of his childhood Thanksgiving and Easter family gatherings, and was renowned for serving large, golden turkeys and mouthwatering sides. A transplant from Pennsylvania, she settled in the Midwest to raise her family on her heritage and food. DH and his brothers couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving anywhere other than gathered at Aunt Doris’ table.

glazed-carrots

Glazed Carrots

1 lb. carrots, cut in half crosswise then lengthwise into wedges
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Bring a small amount of salted water to a boil; add carrots, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and set carrots aside. In the same saucepan, melt butter, then stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Return carrots to pan, tossing gently to coat, and heat through for another 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Note: For Spicy Glazed Carrots, add ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to the brown sugar mixture. Feeling adult? Add 1/4 C. bourbon to brown sugar mixture (and let it cook off a few minutes). Voila.

doris_apron
The Doris Apron
doris_pads_f
The Doris Hot Pads
doris_mit_l_01
The Doris Oven Mitt

 

Please visit my Etsy shop for a complete list of sale items.