Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa’s Beard Advent Activity

Saw this on Pinterest and thought it would be fun to make for Nolan and Skyleigh….

My version has a little brighter colors, but it’s close :)

Santa is a little different, too.


Sorry for the picture quality.  I was racing to get Santa to the post office before they closed!


Hope they like it!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Easy Coffee Cake with Variations

A basic, from-scratch coffee cake with 4 quick and easy alterations.  Fast, easy and the texture is always perfect… moist and fluffy. 
I made blueberry today :)
BASIC STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE 2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup margarine or butter (softened)
1 cup milk
1 egg
STREUSEL:  1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbs. margarine or butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

{Mix all of the streusel ingredients until crumbly. (I use my kitchen aid).  Set aside while preparing the batter}
Dump the batter ingredients in your mixer bowl.  Mix on low 30 seconds, scrape bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium.  Spread 1/2 of the batter in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle batter with 1/2 the streusel.  Top with rest of batter and spread around a bit, but it doesn’t have to fully cover the streusel layer.  Sprinkle with remaining streusel  Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes.   
RAISIN SPICE VARIATION:  When mixing batter, add: 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. allspice.  Stir 1/2 cup raisins into the batter before pouring into pan.  May be made with or without streusel.  Either way, bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup orange (or lemon) juice instead of 1 cup milk and add 1-2 tbs. grated orange or lemon peel to batter ingredients.
BLUEBERRY: Omit streusel.  Spread 1/2 of batter in 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle with 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.  Top with remaining batter.  Sprinkle with another cup of blueberries.  Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool slightly and prepare the glaze: GLAZE: 1 cup powdered sugar,
1 tsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbs. milk
Mix until smooth.  Use 1 tbs. of milk to start and add more if the glaze is too thick.  Drizzle over warm cake. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday inspiration


I will praise God’s name in song


glorify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:30

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


We give thanks to you, O God,

we give thanks,

for your Name is near;

men tell of your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 75:1

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday inspiration


Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him

and praise his name.

Psalm 100:4

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When I turned on the radio the day after Halloween, I heard one of my favorite sounds... Christmas music!

But I remember thinking, Christmas music already?  It seems the airwaves are not alone… from store ads to emails, blog posts to Pinterest pins, it seems the world can think only of Christmas.

And it saddens my heart that Thanksgiving is deemed less worthy of the months of preparation given to Halloween and Christmas. 

In all my memories of childhood, November was for Thanksgiving and it was celebrated first.  Time stood still for a moment while families were thankful… for each other and all the blessings enjoyed over the years.

And guess what -  Christmas was not diminished in the slightest.  In fact, it made the Christmas season THAT much more special and anticipated.  

Lately, I find the more Thanksgiving gets pushed to the side, the more intentional I become about celebrating it…planning, decorating, crafting, cooking and baking with the same enthusiasm as I do Christmas. 

Here are some of the projects I have made for Thanksgiving this year… in hopes my children’s memories of this holiday will be as fond as mine are!
10-31 008

  Thanksgiving Subway Sign


                               Scarecrow Crunch

    Thanksgiving place cards

apple slicesuntitlegravy
Make ahead this week (and freeze) gravy, rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing and pie crust.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nell’s Apple Pie

My great-grandmother Nellene (Nell) created this recipe.  I never got to meet Nellene, but her pie has been the stuff of legends ever since.  She was very careful who she shared the recipe with and kept it pretty much a secret recipe until it fell into my hands. 
(Apparently, I have no gifting in the keep recipes secret department).
Nell’s pie is so much easier to make than a traditional 2 crust apple pie.  And everyone who tries it, is an immediate convert.  But.  This pie is especially beloved by those of the male persuasion. 
Seriously.  Young.  Old.  In da middle.  Undying love is profusely pledged for this pie.  It’s quite a spectacle.
When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes, I began making his with Splenda instead of sugar.  Because, my dad?  He insists he CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT THIS PIE. 
So… are you convinced to try Nell’s recipe? 
Start with a piecrust.  I make mine ahead in large batches and keep them in the freezer.  But use whatever crust you like...  From scratch or the grocer’s freezer. 
Once the crust is in the pan and the edges crimped, dump 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup white sugar into the bottom of the crust.  Mix gently with a fork until blended.
apple slices
Mound up the pie with peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples.  The original recipe calls for golden delicious apples.  I’ve tried a few other apples, but always come back to the golden delicious variety.  They seem to work the best and they’re easy to find at the store year round. 
If your apples are a little tart, sprinkle the top with up to 1/2 cup more sugar.  I almost always opt out of this step.  They’re usually sweet enough. 
Take a carton of whipping cream and start slowly pouring cream over the apples.  Try to get a bit of cream on all the top apple slices.
Dust lightly with ground nutmeg.  No, it’s not the usual apple pie spice, but trust me on this one.  It just works. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. 
Nell’s Cream Apple Pie
1 prepared pie crust
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 golden delicious apples
1/4 to 1/2 cup additional sugar for dusting (optional)
1 to 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Place pie crust in a 9” pie plate and crimp edges.  Mix 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup sugar in bottom of the crust.  Peel, core and thinly slice apples and mound them on top of flour/sugar mixture.  Dust with additional sugar, to taste.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.  Pour whipping cream over the apples.  Try to get each apple covered with just a bit of cream.  Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Freezing cookie dough

If you're looking ahead to Christmas and wondering how you're going to get all of your baking done, consider preparing and freezing your cookie dough now.  Before the busyness begins in earnest. 
2962160899_b72bb0e007Snickerdoodle dough balls
You can have a large assortment of cookie dough ready and waiting at your fingertips.  As Christmas inches closer there will be more time for family or last minute gifts instead of spending all your time in the kitchen.
5347734710_7ec44d3a44Ziploc bag of chocolate chip dough balls
untitled molassesMolasses Crinkles
No real recipe for you today… just the steps to freezing your family favorites ahead of time  :) 
Freezing Cookie Dough
1.  Make the dough from any drop cookie recipe.  Just stay away from cookies that are made with an egg white dough (like meringue) or a more liquid batter (like macarons or brownies).  
2.  On a baking sheet, place heaping spoonfuls of your dough.  If the recipe requires the dough balls be rolled in a sugar mixture, do this before putting them on the sheet.  Continue plopping dough balls until the entire sheet is full. 
3.  Put baking sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours or overnight. 
4.  Remove from freezer and place in airtight containers or freezer bags.  Return to freezer. 
When Ready to Bake: 
Remove desired amount of cookie dough balls from the freezer.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake per your recipe instructions.  No need to thaw first, but you may need to add a minute or two to your baking time. 
Happy Freezing!


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