Sunday, December 29, 2013

Apple Cider Waffles

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. We were able to be with all of the Grands as well as our adult children so that made it wonderful for me! I grew up an only child of an only child and always dreamed of a big family gathered around for holidays - the whole Norman Rockwell picture! Granted, we are somewhat dysfunctional (Whose family isn't??) but we love being together for holidays. I especially appreciate my daughter who, although 7+ months pregnant, let us all converge on their house! I promised to prepare the meals and I kept that promise. However, I KNOW she was happy to see us leave to come home! 

Since we got back to the mountain and have had time to decompress from 4 days in Atlanta, take down the tree and sit with feet up and lap full of new MAC, I have been cruising the Internet. I came across this recipe that sounded good. So, since it was cold and rainy and we were very lazy this morning, I made Apple Cider Waffles for Sunday brunch. I made a few changes in the original recipe from the blog where I found it - of course- and we loved them! 

If you don't have apple cider, use apple juice or even milk in its place. The spices are what lend most of the flavor. For Christmas, my sweet daughter gave me batter/dough scoops in 2 sizes. The larger one (also handy for muffin batter) filled each side of my waffle maker perfectly. The recipe made 4 waffles and we ate every morsel! I'd say this one is a keeper!

Apple Cider Waffles
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda (if you use milk in place of cider, omit the soda)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup apple cider

Preheat waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk all dry ingredients together and add egg, melted butter and apple cider. Whisk until well combined.
Pour into waffle iron and bake according to waffle iron instructions. Serve warm with warm maple syrup and butter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows - again!

I'm re-running this post because I've had soooo many conversations about making marshmallows lately! Today, I stopped in a Williams Sonoma outlet on the way home from ATL and met 2 very nice ladies with whom I had the conversation, along with the guy checking me out. It never ceases to amaze me at the folks who have never thought of making marshmallows. And after they do, they are always converted!

Since first making plain vanilla flavored marshmallows,  I've branched out and added 1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring then swirled in red food coloring after pouring them into a pan. Beautiful!

Then I made Almond flavored marshmallows by adding 1 teaspoon almond flavoring and a few drops red food coloring to make them pink.
IF you have kids, or are a kid at heart, you've got to try these.  These are so easy to make and soooo good! You'll never want a Kraft marshmallow again. I even dipped some in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint.... like eating a clouds!

IF you have kids, or are a kid at heart, you've got to try these.  These are so easy to make and soooo good! You'll never want a Kraft marshmallow again. I even dipped some in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint.... like eating a cloud!

Homemade Marshmallows

These can be layered between sheets of parchment and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray - PAM
1 cup cold water, divided
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored Knox gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil. Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy bottom medium -size saucepan. Stir over medium low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes. ( see tip below)

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer. (Gather the kids around. This is the amazing part - watching this bowl of wet goo, turn into white creamy fluff!)

Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours. (Don't stress over the mess, it cleans up easily with hot water and is well worth it!)

Sift generous dusting of powdered sugar onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more powdered sugar over marshmallow slab. Coat pizza wheel or large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with water or nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining powdered sugar to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

Tips: If you don't have a candy thermometer, after boiling for 6 minutes, drop a very small amount of the hot mixture into a cup of cold water. If you can pick it up between your fingers and it forms a soft ball, it is done!

You'll get better results using a stand mixer. The mixture is very sticky and stiff. If you're using a heavy duty mixer (Kitchenaid) don't over mix. Its ready when it looks like marshmallow cream.

For really thick marshmallows, pour into a foil lined 9-inch square pan.

The hardest part is waiting 4 hrs to cut and eat the marshmallows!! The pan can sit overnight, too.

Add flavorings of your choice. I made one batch with 1 teaspoon almond extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract along with pink food color.

Use cookie cutters to make cute shapes. Stick them on a craft stick and dip in melted chocolate... the options are endless!!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Refrigerator Crescent Rolls

I was delighted to find this recipe for refrigerator rolls. We all love homemade rolls, especially my husband, but they can be so labor intensive when you are preparing a big meal. This recipe is sooooo easy and tasted really good! I made the dough early in the day, chilled the dough then shaped and baked off one pan immediately to see how they tasted. Yummy! I rolled out another pan, refrigerated them until mid afternoon, removed them 2 hrs before dinner and set them in a warm place to rise. They were wonderful! The remainder of the dough was rolled, shaped and frozen for Christmas dinner. I LOVE a make head recipe!


Yield: 3 dozen rolls

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 pkgs yeast
2 cups water
1/3 cup butter flavor shortening*
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs

Measure 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a large mixer bowl. Add yeast; blend.
Combine water, shortening, sugar, and salt in a pan or microwave safe bowl. Heat until warm (120°-130°F), stirring constantly.
Add liquids to flour-yeast mixture. Add eggs. Beat 1 minute at low speed. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl. Beat 3 more minutes at high speed.
Switch to the dough hook, on low speed gradually add the remaining flour, add more or less as necessary flour to form a soft dough. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl.
Cover bowl first with wax paper, then with aluminum foil. Refrigerate no more than 3 days for best results. Punch down dough every 30 minutes for the first few hours until it is chilled, then once a day.
When ready to make rolls, divide the dough in to thirds. Refrigerator remaining dough until ready to shape.
To shape crescent rolls: Roll 1/3 of the dough into a 10-inch circle. Cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Brush with melted butter. Roll each piece of dough from the wide side toward the point, stretching the dough slightly as it is rolled. Place on baking sheet a little apart; curve ends.
Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.
Bake dinner rolls on baking sheet 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, in preheated 400°F oven.
Remove from pan and set on rack; brush with butter.

These are great for make ahead. Shape the rolls, place on a cookie sheet, freeze than place in freezer bag. When ready to use them, remove from freezer 5 hrs ahead of serving time. Place on baking sheets. Cover with cloth and set in warm place to rise.

*Can substitute half or all butter

**Use active dry yeast for this recipe. Instant yeast is not recommended for refrigerated dough.

To punch dough down, wet your hand and literally punch into the center of the bowl of dough!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baked French Toast

Every Christmas morning for many, many years we've had Breakfast Casserole ( the standard bread, eggs, cheese and  sausage). It's convenient since you put it together the night before, refrigerate it and bake it on Christmas morning while presents are being unwrapped. Good plan. Good recipe. However, if you're ready for a change, this Baked French Toast might be just what you're looking for. While it's baking add a pan of bacon to the oven and you've got breakfast or brunch with little effort! 


1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.
Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.
When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over and bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hot Fudge Sauce

This post is for my friend, Jackie. She is the "craftiest" gal that I know. If you can imagine it, she can sew it! Once in a while she falls "off the wagon" ( sugar wagon, that is) and indulges in something decadent. This week she posted that she had peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce. Oh, Jackie! That sounds good, especially since peppermint ice cream is my favorite winter ice cream flavor. One year Mayfield had a shortage of peppermint ice cream and I sent Scotty ( Mayfield ) an email that this was a disaster and totally unacceptable since no one else's peppermint ice cream measures up to theirs! I'm sure they had a good laugh over this crazy old lady in the mountains. I have noticed that there has been plenty in the grocery store freezer ever since.... You're quite welcome!

Jackie, you NEED this recipe for the next time you fall off the wagon and peppermint ice cream happens to be nearby. It's so good that one Christmas, despite a kitchen stuffed with homemade cookies, pies and cakes, my children asked me to go into the kitchen and "whip up" a batch of this
HOT FUDGE SAUCE to go over their peppermint ice cream! And I did! ( My family is soooooo spoiled!)

You can make this up ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. Take out just what you need, warm it in the microwave and indulge! It's so good, you could also just eat it with a spoon. Of course I don't know anyone who has actually done that.......

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1(5oz) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup  chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, milk and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate chips melt and the mixture boils. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Call me when it's done and I'll bring the Mayfield  Peppermint ice cream!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Wow! Have you felt as behind and rushed this Christmas season as I have? With a week less between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are moving along quickly! I was so tired after our Thanksgiving marathon that I spent the entire day on Cyber Monday shopping on the iPad. So, this week the mail lady and the UPS guy will make multiple trips up our driveway. Today I greeted the UPS truck with warm Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. Yesterday afternoon I made 2 batches of cookie dough. I shaped one into logs, wrapped and froze it. Then I dropped the second dough onto baking pans, froze the blobs unbaked, then dropped them into Ziploc bags. Both are ready to bake without thawing. It never hurts to plan ahead when you're facing a race to the finish!

Tomorrow I plan to bring out the fresh cranberries and bake them up into a yummy breakfast cake. I have to admit that this is a new recipe, but it looks really good and is simple but with complex flavors. Fresh cranberries go so well with orange. This recipe uses some of both plus a sour cream cake base. I think it will freeze nicely when cooled. Just remember to use FREEZER bags, NOT storage bags and get out as much air as possible before freezing.

Here's the recipe. Let's give it a try.

Cranberry upside down cake with caramel cranberry topping and orange zest speckled sour cream cake.

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scant pinch ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/4 cup milk

Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat; melt the butter and stir the sugar. Do not stir after the butter has melted. Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Beat butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the orange zest.
Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the milk.

Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Turn the cake out onto a platter or cake plate that will go in the freezer. Cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a large Ziploc freezer bag. Or serve immediately!