Monday, December 28, 2015

Saying a Little Prayer for You

STOP!  Don't throw those Christmas cards out just yet.
There are many things you can do with your Christmas cards.  If you check out Pinterest you'll get lots of ideas, from bookmarks, gift tags, wreaths, boxes, origami stars, ornaments, more cards and the list goes on and on.  In Pinterest, just search for "Recycled Christmas Cards".

Our favorite project is to place our cards in a basket that will hold them all.  Pick a card everyday and say a prayer for the sender.  Hubby and I like to do it before our dinner meal but you can also do it during your devotional time or any other time that best fits your schedule.

What a precious and thoughtful way to pray for those special people in your lives!  I got this idea from Focus On The Family ministry decades ago.

Once you're done with each card, place it in a baggie for safe keeping and to have them ready for the next holiday season to get started on your crafts.

May God bless you and your family in the New Year to come!
Until next time,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Finnish Pulla Bread

 Place these dough ingredients into breadmaker in this order:
3/4 cup warm milk
2 eggs at room temperature
4 tbsps. butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. ground cardamon
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 packet or 2 tsps. instant yeast
2 tbsps. melted butter, slightly cooled
When all ingredients have been placed into the breadmaker, follow directions for making dough.  All I had to do was push the number 9 on my machine.  When the bell goes off, punch the dough down, remove from machine.  Place dough on counter or board dusted well with flour.  Knead the dough a couple of times and then cut in half.  Set aside one half of the dough in a bowl covered with a clean cloth.  Cut the other half into three even parts, roll each piece into a 10" dough stick  (approximately).  Place each stick next to each other, slight dampen the top tip of the middle stick, place the left tip on top of the middle and pinch together.  Repeat with the right stick then tuck under.  Now start braiding.  Wet and pinch the bottom tips the same way the top were done, tuck under.  Place on large cookie sheet.
Repeat all of the above with the second half of the dough and place next to first loaf.
Cover both loaves with a slightly dampen warm clean cloth.  Place in a warm area and let rise until it's double in size, 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
Set oven to 350F degrees.
Gently remove towel.  Brush melted butter all over each dough.  Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy with or without icing BUT while it's still warm! YUM!

ICING (optional)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup of milk
2 tbsps. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together but add the milk a little at a time until the glaze is smooth, not pasty, not watery but smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Dredge icing over each loaf.

Enjoy while it's still warm and with your favorite cup of hot cocoa.

This is a favorite Christmas bread to make every year.  My first time having Pulla Bread was decades ago upon our visit with my husband's brother, Tom, and his wife Linda.  Linda is of Finnish decent and made this bread for our meal.  I had never tasted Pulla Bread before and it definitely had that wow factor.  It was so soft and delicious.  I know a lot of the delicious flavor had to do with the Cardamom spice in it.  I found this recipe years ago on the internet and tweaked it by adding the icing.  Back when Linda served hers I believe she served it like a dinner roll which is just as good too!  No matter how you eat Pulla Bread, with or without icing you will want to keep making it every Christmas.  It just has that holiday festive flavor to it.

Merry Christmas to everyone.  Enjoy your holiday and always remember the reason for the season:
Until next time,

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies

by Craving Something Healthy

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a mixer bowl combine the butter, sugar, almond extract and salt.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour (sorry no picture for this step)

Then stir in the orange zest, dried cranberries and almonds.

Should look like this when you're done

Remove dough from the mixer bowl and roll it out into a long log (about a foot and a half).  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

When you're ready to start baking, preheat oven to 325F degrees.

 Remove from refrigerator and cut into 1/4" slices.  It helps that the dough is good and cold all the way through hence the need for refrigeration.

On a cookie sheet covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper, place the cookies one inch apart.

Bake 15 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown.  Cool.

Wrap and give away as gifts.  Believe you me, anyone would be thrilled to receive these!

I tweeted earlier that I am not a fan of shortbread cookies,  I just always thought they were too bland and boring!  Until I tasted these and POW!  WOW!  I've made about 5 dozen or more so far.  Half I've given away and the other half, well, I'm not going to tell.

The combination of the orange zest and cranberries are tart, sweet and tasty.  A perfect compliment to your hot chocolate drink.  These will definitely become a new tradition every Christmas and any time in between for sure!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Repurposed Front Door

So we had to replace our front door.

There were a lot of reasons we had to get a new door.  I'm not sure if the door was the original door, our house is 100 years old this year.  I wish I knew if it was the original door or not.  Anyways, it wasn't energy efficient.  The wood below the window pane (which also wasn't energy efficient) had a straight line vertical fracture in it so suffice to say, this little entrance room felt like a freezer last winter.  The handle broke off a couple times so when it did that I told hubby that we absolutely needed to get a new door for the front entrance before winter came along.

Now we're left with the question of what to do with the old door.  It solid wood, very heavy.  I know that if I left outside by the curb, it would be gone in no time.  Instead I decided to repurpose it.

I cleaned it real good and then painted it white. A few days later I added Annie Sloan's dark wax to give it that distressed looks.

I painted the glass with black chalk paint.  The door is now placed in front of a doorway that needed a door.  When we moved into this house about a year and half ago, this room was used mainly as a tv room but we turned it into the bedroom (so that hubby wouldn't have to go up and down the stairway to an upstairs bedroom).  This doorway is between the dining room and our bedroom so I thought that by putting the newly repurposed door there, it would look very nice and stylish in the dining room but also cover up the bedroom.  Oh!  I forgot to mention that we have another entrance into our bedroom from the living room....that's another story for another time.

I'm thrilled that I can decorate my new repurposed door with whatever season were in and write a beautiful message on the black chalkboard.  I'm also thrilled that I can keep this older door in the house, especially if it was the original.

So, what do you think?

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week :)  Until next time,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stir Fry Chicken Vegetables and Noodles

Canola oil
Sesame seed oil
1 pkg. Asian noodles, cook according to pkg. directions.
2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips, size of pinky finger
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1-2 carrots, julienne
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 bunch of kale, remove stem, roughly chop
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
Red pepper flakes - optional

 Once the noodles are cooked, set aside.

 Heat olive oil in 10" skillet.  Divide the chicken strips and cook separately, that way they the chicken strips fry and brown instead of steam.  Set aside.

Heat some more oil and add the onions.  Stir until soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and ginger, cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the carrots, cup of vegetables and kale.  Stir fry until the kale reduces 50%,

Add the chicken broth and soy sauce.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, or until kale is tender.

Add the chicken, combine and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked noodles until thoroughly combined.  Drizzle on the sesame seed oil.  Serve warm.

YUMMY!!!  I loved this but hubby thought it was okay.  I have to confess that I used Kale only because I didn't have cabbage and lo' and behold, the kale tasted wonderful.  I couldn't get enough of it!  I was so sad that I completely forgot to add the fresh ginger but perhaps that was best or else I would have eaten the whole pan. *blushing*

If you love Asian food, try this simple dish, it's SO good and healthy too :)

Until next time,

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

In my quest to make everything I cook from scratch, I have to admit this was tiring and took a lot longer than I expected but it was worth it.  I love spending time in the kitchen especially when I can do two things I love at the same time- cooking and watching college football.

The following are links to all the recipes I used although I may have tweaked them to my liking here and there:

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Flour + 1/4 cup
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsps. buttermilk powder (optional) [I didn't have it]
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4-1/2 cup ice water
1 sheet of foil
1 cup dry beans or pie weights

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.  Add the cold butter and mix in the food processor for about 5 seconds.  Slowly add the water a few drops at a time until dough turns into pea size bits.  Turn into floured board, gather into a ball and then flatten into a disk.  Place pastry disk into a zip lock baggie and cool in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or in freezer for 20-30 minutes if you're in a hurry.

Remove pastry disk from refrigerator and place on floured board.  With a rolling pin, press down on dough and roll away from you from one end to the other.  Shift pastry disk to the left or right but never roll back and forth.  Repeat until dough is at least two inches larger than pie plate.

Gently roll dough over rolling pin

Gently unroll the pie crust onto pie pan, making sure it's as centered as you can get it.

Gently press down on inside edges.  Trim off excess leaving about an inch overlap.

Tuck excess dough under to make a thick edge.

Crimp the edges however way you want.  All I did was from the inside, I used my right thumb to press down on the edge while using my left thumb and left forefinger to pinch the dough down simultaneously.  You can also use a spoon or fork to press down on the edges.

This next step was totally foreign to me as I've never done it before
Cover the pie crust with foil, gently push down on all sides.  Place the beans or pie weights (I seriously need to get me some) on top of the foil.  Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes.  If the pie crust semi shrivels up after it's removed from the oven, let it cool and stretch back into place.  I don't know if this was supposed to happen but it was easily rectified.  Cool pie crust and set aside.

2 small pumpkins
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F degree
I bought these two small pumpkins at our local Meijer store.  They were even labeled for "pumpkin pie".

Cut off the top (this particular pumpkin was very difficult to cut - something tells me it wasn't as fresh ass the other one).  Scoop out the insides and reserve in a bowl, set aside.

Cut the pumpkins into quarters, place on rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle the top and bottoms with olive oil.  Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until tender.

After the pumpkin has cooled, scoop the pumpkin flesh out into a food processor, 3 quarters at a time.

Pulse for 30 seconds or until the pumpkin turns into puree

This step is optional but because my puree was a little too watery, I used a cheesecloth to strain it.  I believe I picked up this tip from Martha Stewart.

Pour pumpkin puree in a bowl, set aside.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsps. pumpkin spice
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup half & half

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs

add the light brown sugar

add the vanilla extract

add the salt

add the pumpkin spice

add the pumpkin puree

combine well

add the half & half until thoroughly combined

Pour pumpkin filling into prepared pie crust

Place a pie crust shield on the pie, bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.  My oven is not the best, so I ended up baking this pie for 2 1/2 hours!!!  I'm so ready for a new oven.  Anyway, remove from oven and let cool unless you're like my hubby who can't wait and has to have a piece as soon as his tongue can handle it. 

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps. maple syrup
1 tsp. granulated sugar (I only had raw sugar and it worked)

While the pie is baking, start on the whipped cream.  Start by adding the heavy cream to a mixing bowl.

add the maple syrup

add the sugar

whip all the ingredients

whip until soft peaks can be formed.  I may have over whipped a little bit.  I didn't get soft peaks but the whipped cream still came out delicious yet very stiff.  Store in a bowl and refrigerate until ready for use.

Fresh pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Once I rinsed the pumpkin seeds in a strainer I put them in a medium bowl.  While I rinsed them I removed as much of the pulp as I was able.  I patted them dry, then I added the olive oil and salt.  Mixed  until they were thoroughly combined with the oil and salt.

Spread the seeds out evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet, sprinkle a little more with some salt if you'd like.  Roast in hot oven for 45 minutes or until browned.

Remove from oven and cool then enjoy.

and here is the whole Motley crew.  Pie crust, Homemade Pumpkin Puree/Filling, Homemade Whipped Cream and Roasted  Pumpkin Seeds.

This was the first piece cut and dummy me didn't think that the whipped was going to melt but I took the picture anyway.  Doesn't look bad at all and it didn't taste bad either.  Although it tasted better the following day when it had time to cool down in the refrigerator.

I spent all day in the kitchen.  Soon after a late breakfast I started on the pie.  I'm certain next time around it won't take me as long but even though I didn't mind and if I can help it, this is the way I will continue to make my pumpkin pie from now on.

Have you ever made homemade pumpkin pie from scratch?  Any tips you can give me, please feel free to do so.  Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,