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.


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?




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



Strong Women


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

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.

The Doris Apron
The Doris Hot Pads
The Doris Oven Mitt


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