Hot Cross Buns

 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.





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Apple Crisp

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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.

DSCF7130DSCF7131As you can tell this recipe was used many times. I used some of my crisp mixture to make a few extra little servings. They get tucked in the back of the refrigerator for late night snacking.

DSCF7117DSCF7118DSCF7119DSCF7120DSCF7121DSCF7126DSCF7135DSCF7128DSCF7144    The crisp may be served warm or cold. It is so rich in flavor from all the apples you can skip the customary scoop of vanilla ice cream. But if you must go for it!

Hope your having a wonderful Fall season.

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Individual Chicken Pot Pies

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.

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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.

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Chop the vegetables in a small dice. Keeping them the same size for even cooking.

DSCF6587Boil the potatoes and carrots together.

DSCF6582Sauté the onion and celery together.

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Dice the chicken.

DSCF6589The gravy is made in the in the pan I sauté the onions and carrots in.

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Add all of the cooked vegetables and chicken.

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Pour the filling into the tins.

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Put the crusts on top and egg wash and bake.

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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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Cranberry Orange Muffins

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!

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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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Chocolate Chip Cookies

I rarely bake cookies any more. There’s never anyone at home that wants to eat them. We all seem to be watching our waist. So when an opportunity presents itself I’m right there ready to bake. I love chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven with an icy cold glass of milk. They need to be soft in the center with a little crispiness around the edges, have semisweet chocolate chips, and be full of walnuts. I usually do half plain, half with walnuts. Not everyone shares my love of nuts. I slightly under bake my cookies; I find that they keep better. I don’t want to bite into a hard cookie the next day. These cookies stay just moist enough, making me feel confident that I can bake them the day before an event. I baked these cookies for a family gathering this past week. When I was leaving the tray was completely empty, which put a smile on my face.

Cream butter and sugars.
Cream butter and sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix to incorporate.
Mix to incorporate.
Add chocolate chips, and nuts if using. Just stir a few seconds to incorporate.
Add chocolate chips, and nuts if using. Just stir a few seconds to incorporate.
Drop on to parchment lined baking sheet I inch apart.
Drop on to parchment lined baking sheet I inch apart.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

¾ cup organic pure cane sugar, or granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2-3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (if you love the cookies very chocolaty add 3, I use 2)

2/3 chopped walnuts, optional, or divide batter and make half plain and half with nuts just use ½ cup walnuts in that case.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the butter, brown sugar, pure cane sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Mixture will be light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix an additional 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture just till it comes together. Add the chocolate chips, and walnuts if using. Mix on low for about 25 seconds, just to mix together. At this point I refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop place cookies 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotate cookie sheet at the 7 minute mark. I like mine light and just golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Yields 4 dozen cookies

Store in an air tight container

 

Bakers note: I love to infuse my sugar with a vanilla bean for these cookies. Keep a container on hand for cookies and other bake goods.

I consider room temperature butter to be at least 65 degrees. I give the eggs 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

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Blueberry Muffins

I love blueberries! I consider myself lucky to live right near the blueberry capital of the world, Hammonton N.J. The farmers markets are filled with an abundance of these deep blue delicious berries. It is the perfect time to bake my favorite blueberry muffins. I love to make these muffins not just because they are so delicious, but they remind me of my boy’s Justin and Daniel. I found this recipe in a little paperback book I had purchased when they were little school boys. It had all kinds of recipes for lunch and snacks. They ate this muffin like it was a yummy dessert. I would always put butter on it hot from the oven. The recipe gave two amounts for the sugar. I always got away with the lesser amount. My boys just loved the blueberries and the buttery taste. I always added a few extra berries to the recipe. This was a treat we always looked forward to.

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Blueberry Muffins

1¾ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 – 2/3 cup of sugar (infused with a vanilla bean)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup melted butter

1 cup of fresh blueberries, frozen may be substituted

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs, combine the melted butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Spoon the wet mixture into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon just to incorporate the ingredients. You don’t want to over mix. Gently fold in the cup of blueberries. Line a cupcake pan with liners or grease each section with butter. Fill 2/3 full of batter. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 12 delicious muffins.

Baker’s notes: These muffins are best with the fresh blueberries. You may use oil instead of the melted butter. I prefer the melted butter. You could also add fresh lemon zest. I keep a container of sugar with a vanilla bean stuck in the center to infuse the sugar with vanilla. You may also use regular sugar.

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