I haven’t had much time to relax at home and bake in a while now. I woke up on a mission this morning to bake hot cross buns for my mother in law Helen. I can’t believe it’s that time of year again! Helen really enjoys hot cross buns. I’ve always purchased them at work it’s so easy to just pick up a package. I had them in my hand yesterday but decided to bake them myself knowing I had the next day off. I made hot cross buns for the fist time last year and was thrilled with the results. Today I pulled out my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and followed that recipe. I’m so glad I decided to make the effort. It was so rainy here today. The perfect way to relax on my day off. My Husband Joe will deliver the buns to Mom tomorrow. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed making them.
I am truly enjoying this Fall season. I especially loved picking up these apples on my way home from Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. My husband scouted out an apple orchard and with the help of our GPS we found it. There were so many choices of apples to pick from. I can’t even remember all the names. We got a bag and just started filling it with different varieties of baking apples and a few extra for eating. I always use a variety of apples when baking pie, cobbler, or crisp. The flavor is just unbeatable. I used a special family recipe it’s just the best! The ride home was just beautiful with all the colors of the changing leaves. I made my apple crisp the day after we arrived home. I couldn’t wait! It took a while to get this posted, I do hope you give it a try.
Hope your having a wonderful Fall season.
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I have always loved chicken pot pie. Even when I was a young girl I thought it so comforting. I especially loved the gravy. When my children were very young I began to learn how to bake. I bravely made white and wheat bread, homemade cakes and pies. Most attempts turned out pretty badly. I remember once serving company homemade coconut cake it was so dry, all they could say was how much they admired me for trying. In time my efforts improved. I got to know the look and feel of bread and pie dough and mastered the cake batter. I made the chicken pot pie recipe in the Better Homes and Garden cookbook over and over again until I could make it pretty much perfect. My children have always loved it. To this day if I make a special dinner they ask for that pot pie. The crust is flakey and crispy. The filling heavenly, with the flavor of fresh sage and thyme baked into the chicken. The tender pieces of chicken, sweet carrot, baby potatoes, and a few fresh peas add even more flavor. I love the idea of making them individual just like the banquet pot pies my Mom used to buy. Only these are oh so much tastier.
I like to bake my chicken in chicken broth, sprinkled with fresh sage, thyme, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. The broth keeps the chicken very tender and flavorful.
Chop the vegetables in a small dice. Keeping them the same size for even cooking.
Dice the chicken.
Add all of the cooked vegetables and chicken.
Pour the filling into the tins.
Put the crusts on top and egg wash and bake.
Time to enjoy!
Chicken Pot Pie
Homemade or store bough pie crust
3 cups chicken, diced
Good pinch of fresh thyme and sage, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 cup diced baby potatoes, yellow or red
2/3 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
¼ cup fresh or frozen peas
4 tablespoons butter
2 1/4 cups chicken stock or broth
¾ cup whole milk
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
To prepare the chicken place the breasts into a baking dish add enough broth to generously coat the bottom, but not to cover the chicken. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Bake 350 degree until the temperature reads 160 degrees. Rest chicken for 10 minutes. Boil the potatoes and carrots together until tender, strain and set aside. In a sauté pan melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onion, celery, salt, pepper, and ground sage. Be careful not to brown the onion. Cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the pan stir with a whisk. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth while mixing with a whisk, and then add the milk and whisk to get smooth gravy. Cook until thick and bubbly. Add the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas. You may bake the pot pie in a 9 inch pie plate or individual tins. Pour the filling into the tins and top with your prepared dough. Cut a hole or slits in the crust to vent. Egg wash and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and bubbling. I used only a top crust you may use top and bottom crust. You can also top with prepared puff pastry.
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My snowy backyard.
I was at the book store one day last week and to my delight my eyes came upon a new magazine: SIFT, a King Arthur Publication. As I thumbed my way through I saw beautiful pictures of bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits, pizza, sandwiches, gluten free baked goods, and a section on a Mediterranean feast. The photos all looked so appealing, but one picture really had my attention: hot cross buns. I was hoping to make hot cross buns for the upcoming Easter season this year to share with my Mother-In-Law Helen. She just loves hot cross buns and buys them every year. I read over the ingredients and method for preparing the dough and the baking. I happily purchased my new magazine and couldn’t wait to bake the buns. Later that week we had a snow storm and I knew it was the perfect day for baking. The recipe called for either apple juice or rum, and I had rum on hand so I used that. It also called for mixed dried fruit, and I used a mixture of golden raisins and California raisins. I chose to mix the dough by hand instead of the mixer. When baking bread at home in such a small batch I love to get my hands in it. The dough was easy to mix and the process was relaxing. I did some reading during the rise times. It was so hard waiting for those buns to cool, but I wanted to enjoy the little taste of icing piped on the top to get the whole experience of the tasting. It was worth the wait! The bun was soft and tender. The fruit was tasty with the infusion of the rum, and who doesn’t love the taste of icing? I love the buns and the magazine. I will be patiently awaiting the next issue, but ‘till then there’s lots more great recipes in this issue to try.
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I was heading out of work last Saturday when I stopped to say hello to my friend Danny. She was sampling a special cheese with little toasts. Upon stopping she graciously offered me a sample. The cheese was called Grand Cru Surchoix. Danny could say it perfectly and I loved hearing it. It sounded so elegant. It was an Alpine-style cheese with a lovely complex flavor. I decided I had to buy some and putting it into a little quiche tart would be just perfect. I had some Apple wood smoked bacon in my refrigerator and fresh herbs to give it some color. I used three large eggs, one cup of heavy cream, and fresh cracked pepper for the custard. No salt was added the cheese and the bacon have just the right amount. I prepared my favorite pastry crust while the bacon was cooking. The little quiche tarts were served on top of spring mix with a drizzle of balsamic dressing on the leaves. What a delicious dinner tonight for my daughter and I. During dinner my daughter Stefanie just had to tease me in her fake English accent saying “your such a gourmet”. We laughed and enjoyed our lovely little tarts. I also saved a couple of tarts for my friend. I hope she will enjoy them as much as I did. Thanks for stopping by!!
These muffins smell so good baking in my oven this afternoon. I have always made these muffins just around Thanksgiving. The beautiful fresh red cranberries just beg to be added to muffins, breads, and fresh cranberry sauce of course. Who could resist them! I lived in Washington State many years ago and I would bring these muffins to my Sunday school class. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them. When you bite into this muffin it’s moist. The orange zest and cranberries give a burst of fresh tangy flavor and the nuts give a delightful crunch. Once you try these tasty muffins you will want them every year. When see those beautiful red cranberries, you won’t be able to resist!
Cranberry Orange Muffins
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ Teaspoon baking powder
½ Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ Teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
½ Cup shortening
¾ Cup Fresh orange juice
2 large eggs beaten
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ Cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 ½ Cups pecans, chopped
Bake 375 degrees in a pre-heated oven
Bake 15-18 minutes
In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and the orange zest
Cut in the shortening
Stir in the orange juice, eggs, and vanilla
Stir just till combined, add cranberries and nuts. Gently stir just to bring ingredients together. Don’t over mix. Line muffin pans and fill 2/3 full with the batter. Makes 1 ½ dozen.
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I’m up early this Sunday morning to prepare the stuffing for our turkey dinner this afternoon. My husband Joe and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with our children today. Wish we could all be together on Thanksgiving Day, but as a blended family things can’t always go as you wish. I am grateful to be able to prepare such a special meal and share a day of thanks with each of them. Thanksgiving is such a special holiday for me. I have a many treasured memories from my childhood. Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season in our home. My Dad and Mom loved the holidays and spoiling their seven children with a feast on Thanksgiving another feast and tons of presents under our tree on Christmas. Those days were the happiest I can remember. Days before Thanksgiving my sister Carol and I would help Mom by washing all the china. We had at least 20 people at most of our dinners. I remember one year my Dad putting two wooden stands several feet apart and laying ply would over them for our table. Mom would lay a beautiful table cloth and the lovely china and food were the decoration, which would cover the entire table. One of my favorite dishes on the holiday table was Mom’s stuffing. It was made with sausage and stuffed into the cavity of a twenty five pound butterball turkey. Dad always put strips of bacon across the top of the turkey. When the turkey was resting I loved to sneak the bacon off the top. It was so crisp and delicious. The stuffing recipe was my Grandmother Queens and Mom always made the stuffing just the way her Mom taught her. Mom didn’t have a recipe box which I’m sad about now. However my sister Bev and I put the recipe together the best we remembered.
Grandma Queens Stuffing
2 bags soft unseasoned bread cubes. I use Stroehann Pennsylvania Dutch bakers.
1 16 oz. Package Jimmy Dean premium pork sausage, regular
2 eggs beaten
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped fine
3-4 celery ribs, Chopped fine
1 stick butter
Chicken stock, use as much as you determine based on how moist you want your stuffing. Start with 2 cups. Grandma and Mom used boiling hot water. I like the stock for the flavor.
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, you could also use mixture of fresh chopped herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary etc.
In a large sauté pan melt the butter. Add the onion, and celery. Add just a little salt at the point. Sauté until the onion and celery are tender. In another pan break up the sausage and cook till almost brown. Drain off any fat. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the beaten egg and toss with the bread cubes. Add the onion, celery, sausage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt as the chicken stock has salt as well. Toss everything together. Add broth starting with 1 cup use your clean hands to mix. Add stock as needed to get the moisture you desire. I use about 2 ½ cups. I love mine moist. Cooking the sausage is optional. It will fully cook in the oven when you bake it. I prefer it this way. If you are worried about the fat then cook and drain the sausage. Put the stuffing in a large casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
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