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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What could be more comforting then ripe bananas baked into to bread. So sweet and so fragrant. This is one of my favorite fall treats.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add banana to the creamed butter and sugar. Then add eggs, vanilla, and spices. Add flour to creamed mixture.
Fold in walnuts.
Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve on your favorite plate and enjoy!
Banana Nut Bread
9 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed, you may use pure cane sugar if you wish
Cream the butter and the sugar.
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
Add to the creamed mixture.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg to the creamed mixture. Mix until blended.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Sift ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture. Mix on low till blended.
¼ cup whole milk
Add milk and mix on low to blend
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
Add walnuts to the mixture by gently folding into the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. A tooth pick inserted should come out clean and the crust will be golden. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Then cool until it’s warm on wire rack. Serve warm plain or spread with softened butter.
Bakers note: My ingredients were all at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.
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I can’t believe it’s the end of August; I love the summer so much! The older I get the faster the seasons seem to pass. I heard the crickets loud as ever last week and before I know it they will be sneaking out of the cracks and greeting me in the wee hours of the morning, just before I’m off to work. In the next few weeks my husband and I will try to visit the Jersey shore as many times as we can fit into our schedules. But the time will pass quickly and fall will be upon us. Aside from summer, I love fall almost as much. I love the baking, our trip to Pittsburg to try and catch the fall foliage and visit my husband’s childhood home town. Pulling out the sweaters and lighting the fireplace for the first time on a chilly night. It’s so much fun Spotting the first pumpkins and gourds at the local farm market. Going on a hay ride with your family and pulling out recipes for favorite soups and stews. With all of these things to look forward to I can open my mind and embrace the upcoming season. Sundays are good days for me to be in the kitchen. After church I love to come home and make something special for my family. Today with the realization that the end of summer is about a month away, I thought I’d try making butternut squash soup. I’ve never made butternut squash soup so it will be a time of testing for me. I have had it at restaurants and last year at a friend’s house. I really enjoyed it each time I tasted it. I knew I would love to make it for my family homemade. I scouted the internet for recipes. There are many! I saw recipes that boiled the squash and vegetables and others that roasted them. I’m a big fan of roasted vegetables. Roasting just seems to bring so much flavor out of any vegetable. The other ingredient I wanted in the soup was apple. This is sure sounding like a fall soup now! I consulted my flavor bible book and decided to use bay leaf, nutmeg and cinnamon to add flavor. I also added an over flowing tablespoon of pure maple syrup to add a little more sweetness. To finish the soup I added a good dash of light cream and fresh grated nutmeg, just a dash. For a garnish on my soup I toasted some pumpkin seeds and sprinkled them on top. My house smelled amazing during this process I must say. My husband was kindly yelling out smells good in here! I just love that. Cooking and baking is such a blessing to me when I can share it with others. That’s what makes it a joyous task. Well, after about an hour and a half I brought my soup out to my husband for tasting. He really enjoyed it, as did I. All the flavors and ratios worked well together. I would definitely serve this to company. I would however like to make this soup a few more times and try a few different recipes before I give it a place of honor in my recipe box. As much as I will miss summer I’m looking forward to fall and all the fun and yummy things that come with it. God Bless and enjoy your day!
Butternut Squash Soup
2 lbs. butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and cored, cut into 1 inch cube
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1 inch cube
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Dash of cream
Fresh grated nutmeg, optional
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
On a baking tray evenly spread out the prepared squash, apple, and onion. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Pour olive oil over the vegetables and apple. Bake 30-35 minutes until the squash is very tender. When done roasting the vegetables pour them into a saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups of vegetable broth, the bay leaf, and the nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a gentle boil and heat through and let the spices marry. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup and add the remaining broth until you have a nice consistency to the soup. Finish the soup with a good dash of cream stirring to combine. Grate a little fresh nutmeg over top. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
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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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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 have been dreaming of baking an apple pie for several weeks now. The fall chill in the air just seems to beg for the oven to be lit. My husband, Joe and I planned a quick getaway last weekend to Pittsburg. He was born in Pittsburg and grew up in the boro of Castle Shannon. I decided to wait on my pie so I could purchase the apples from a farmers market nearby. Trax Farm has so many different kinds of apples. Joe’s Mom Helen always made her apple pie with star apples. I was going to look for those apples to make my pie just like his mom’s. Unfortunately they had no star apples. Since there were so many different kinds of apples I decided to use a variety of apples for my pie. I chose Jonathan, ginger gold, golden delicious, Jonagold, and granny smith. I loaded up my bag and paid. It was cool enough in the car that they wouldn’t spoil for the few days we were visiting. We had such a great time sight seeing and visiting Joe’s old neighborhood. We even made it to the Steelers game on Sunday due to the generosity of an old college buddy of Joe’s who lives in Pittsburg. I was so excited on our return home to make my apple pie. I waited till the next day and rolled up my selves. I relived our trip in my mind as I prepared the pie. When Joe came home from work that day we enjoyed a piece after our dinner. It was so delicious! I’m sure it was all those different apples and the fact that they came from Pittsburg of course!
Double crust pastry
8 cups apples, different varieties of baking apples. Peeled and sliced.
2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons of whole milk
Prepare your favorite pastry crust chill for a least 1 hour or purchase a ready-made crust. Peel and slice the apples. Toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and spices and mix with a spoon until evenly coated. Roll out the bottom crust and fill with the apple filling. Dot the top of the pie with diced unsalted butter. Roll out the top crust and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges. Brush the top crust with while milk, and then cut slits in the top of crust to make a vent. Bake in a pre-heat 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cool and refrigerate and serve cold.
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