Category Archives: Baking

Today, I’m Making…

… Homemade Granola, using this recipe, as usual. For this batch, I threw in some additional ingredients, including flax seed, wheat germ, brown sugar, dried apricots and dried cranberries, making it more filling and quite tasty.

… Homemade Caramels, using this recipe. This was my first try making caramels, so we’ll see how they turn out.

It’s been fun to try some experiments on a Friday afternoon!

A European Bakery

After finishing a big commissioned sewing project last week, I rewarded myself with a field trip to a European bakery in town.

I haven’t been there in years, so I couldn’t remember what to expect. It doesn’t get great reviews on Yelp, making me a bit skeptical.

However, since I like to do my own thing and form my own opinions, I explored with an open mind. I learned that the owners are originally from Germany, and moved here to the upper midwest in the late 1950s, bringing with them traditional European bakery recipes. Their daughter runs the bakery now, after getting her pastry degree in Germany.

They offer a huge variety of old world baked goods, including bread, cookies, desserts, sweetbreads, candies, truffles and more.

As you can see from my pictures, I was not disappointed!

The smells of freshly baked bread, the sights of all the beautiful confections and glazed frosting!

It was a mouth-watering experience!

I didn’t buy anything I couldn’t make at home, so I bought a French baguette for dinner, two croissants for Saturday morning breakfast, and one of those decadent morning buns for fun. 

Good thing I’ve been working out again regularly.

A Birthday, Turkey and Cookies

I just had quite an eventful week. As my mom said, “I’m thankful to have so many wonderful things in my life to be thankful for.”

We celebrated my birthday with a celebratory lunch and a hike through the woods and along the beach.

Then we celebrated Thanksgiving with family, catching up, telling stories, laughing, cooking and eating.

Then we enjoyed my family’s annual Cookie Day, a full day of marathon cookie making. I think we made over 20 varieties this year!

Today, after hosting an early breakfast for the family before they had to hit the road, I took a nap, laid on the couch to finish my book. I can’t remember the last time I had such a lazy day. Now I’m refreshed and ready for a new week filled with creativity.

Just Call Me Cookie Monster

We already ran out of cookies from our family Cookie Day, so I had to make more.

First, I made these chocolate crinkle cookies, which are mouth-watering. They are exactly the way Nichole described them, crunchy on the outside and like a brownie on the inside.

Next, I made sugar cookies because they are Dave’s favorite. They are my least favorite holiday cookie, so to be totally honest with you, I didn’t feel like doing cut-outs!

Finally, I made a batch of my favorite cookies – gingerbread people. Notice, I took the time to make these into cut-outs – LOL!

There were some characters in the pan, like the one on the left below, whose eye fell out, but luckily he caught it. Must have had too many cocktails at the holiday party. Or the one on the right below with the hairy chest, winking at you!

Then, our neighbors showed up with their annual Christmas box full of layers of the most adorable and beautifully decorated cut-out cookies!

As you can tell, we LOVE cookies in our house. I hope these last a little longer than the previous cookie stash!

Cookie Day

Every year since I can remember, my family has gotten together to celebrate Christmas with our annual Cookie Day. UPDATE: I added the recipes to my Favorite Recipes tab above.

(Chunky Triple Chocolate Cookies)

We pick a day around Thanksgiving when we all get together, cousins, aunts and uncles, for a marathon of cookie baking. Well, okay, the guys go out for lunch and watch a lot of football. But some of them help with the baking and decorating. It has been a great tradition for all these years.

(English Toffee)

One year we made over 20 different varieties! Our recipe book has grown into a 3-ring binder. This year, I think the family made 12 different varieties.

(Peanut Butter Blossoms)

When I was a kid, my mom used to keep the cookies in the freezer so we wouldn’t eat all of them before Christmas arrived. We snuck them out of the freezer anyway! Imagine her surprise when she wanted to set out a plate of cookies for a party. (seriously, I’m sure she knew about our shenanigans all along!)

(Chocolate Mint Sandwiches – recipe pending)

I think I might have a couple left, but they are definitely not going to last until Christmas!

A Productive Saturday

I love productive Saturdays. Of course, it helps me stay focused when it’s cloudy and rainy outside.

While Dave raked leaves, I painted a few extras sets of checkers for some new checkerboard sets in my shop. I sold a few sets last year during the holiday season, so I wanted to restock for my upcoming craft show and the gift-giving season.

I like to mix up the king side with crown stamps for some sets and leaf stamps for other sets, which go along with my Patchwork Trails brand.

Then I was feeling motivated to make a batch of pumpkin cookies, the melt-in-your-mouth kind!

EDIT: here is the recipe for the pumpkin cookies, if you’re interested:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 can pumpkin

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Vanilla baking chips (as many as you want)

Milk chocolate baking chips (I used minis)

1 container cream cheese frosting

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease baking sheets.

2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until smooth.

3. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well blended.

4. Stir in baking chips.

5. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

6. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Cool for one minute on cookie sheet, then remove to cooling racks.

7. Spread frosting on warm cookies.

– – – – –

To keep all that domestic momentum going, we enjoyed chicken pot pie for dinner.

We started with a recipe from the Midwest Living magazine, December issue, which called for puff pastry sheets on the top but we also added a layer of pie crust to the bottom. It was divine!

EDIT: here’s the Pot Pie recipe, if you’re interested:

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

3 cups cooked, diced chicken or turkey

3 cups frozen mixed vegetables

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons herbs (parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

1/2 package of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet (1 sheet), thawed

1 pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Whisk egg and water in small bowl.

3. Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and broth, stirring until mixture thickens. Add chicken and vegetables. Pour into pie crust.

4. Unfold pastry sheet and place over filling. Press pastry to rim to seal. Brush pastry with egg mixture and sprinkle with herbs.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

– – – – –

I’m off to my sewing room now to play. Hope you had a productive day too!

October Farmers Market

It’s been about a month since we made it out to the farmer’s market, so it felt great to get out there today.

I love all the wonderful colors and varieties of vegetables to discover at the market in October.

It was the first day of the season that we had to bundle up with jackets and scarves because it was cold and windy.

I was amazed to see the things farmers are still offering for sale, like these beautiful, rich-looking flowers.

I bought a bag of Macintosh apples, which I peeled and cored just as soon as we got home.

I made a small batch of cinnamon applesauce, which I love eating while it’s still warm.

I also made my favorite dessert, apple crisp, using an old recipe from my aunt MaryAnn.

Peel and slice three apples. Layer on bottom of square pan.

Mix 3/4 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Sprinkle over apple slices.

Melt 1/2 cup butter and drizzle over apples and crisp mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

We are lucky our farmer’s market lasts until early November, so hopefully we will be able to fit in at least one more trip.

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