Most of us look forward to vacation. We make reservations and plan for months, even years in advance. However, have you ever noticed how nice it is to come home, whether you have been away days, weeks, or months?
Webster’s says that home is a place where one lives; a residence, the physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment, a dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household. In reality, home means so much more. It is the place we relate to love, family, and special memories.
I don’t even have to be in the driveway. I can see the house in the distance and breathe a sigh of relief. At my age, with a home of my own, there is still something special about going to mama’s house too. I recently visited mama for a few days, and we went on our annual Ellijay apple trip, with a pit stop at the Dawsonville Pool Room for a Bully Burger, yum! This year we had five extra family members join us, which was fun.
Scones are one of my favorite foods. With apples galore, I adapted my blueberry scone recipe to make these fabulous scones. With cinnamon, nutmeg and loads of apples, these scones are precisely what a crisp fall morning breakfast should be!
Spiced Apple Scones
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- ⅓ c. packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen, and grated with a cheese grater
- ½ c. whipping cream
- 1 lg. egg
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1½ to 2 c. peeled and diced apples (I used a combination of Granny Smith and Braeburn)
- Spiced Glaze:
- 1 c. confectioners' sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- ¼ c. whipping cream, use more if the consistency is too thick for dipping
- Glaze for piping:
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 tbsp. whipping cream (you want this stiff enough to pipe onto scones without it running, as mine did)
- For the scones:
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the butter in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from freezer and shred, using a cheese grater. Return the shredded butter to the freezer until you are ready to use.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the whipping cream, egg, and vanilla.
- Add the frozen shredded butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers to coat with flour.
- Stir in the egg mixture just to combine. Transfer dough to a well-floured board and dust top with additional flour. Working quickly, knead the dough a few times. Flatten the dough, using your fingers, into a 12" x 12" square. Sprinkle with apples and lightly press them into the dough.
- Fold ⅓ of the dough over, then the other ⅓ over the top of that piece (fold like you would a letter). Press the ends together and shape, if needed into, a 12" x 4" rectangle.
- Cut crosswise in the middle, then again in the middle of each piece. You should have four even squares. Cut each square diagonally into two triangles. Place on prepared pan.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.
- For glazes: In the meantime mix up the glaze mixtures. Brush the spiced glaze onto each scone using a pastry brush. Cool for a few minutes.
- Spoon white glaze into a ziptop bag. Snip off a small section of the corner of the bag. Pipe the glaze on top of each spiced glazed scone.
- Allow glaze to air dry at room temperature then serve.
While traveling in Florida recently, Greg and I discovered the lovely little town of Venice. We enjoyed great restaurants and friendly people. One little French cafe in the downtown area was so charming that I would make the drive again just to go there.
The pastries were divine, and we ended up splitting a few things so that we could try more. While there we had a delicious puff pastry quiche that I had to recreate when we returned home. It is a simple quiche made with prosciutto and Swiss cheese, and the crust was a delicious, flaky puff pastry.
When we returned home, I had to try to recreate the amazing quiche. I would prefer homemade puff pastry crust, but the purchased frozen puff pastry that I used was a good substitute. Feel free to substitute a regular pie crust.
Puff Pastry Quiche Lorraine
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 oz. to 4 oz. prosciutto, cut into strips
- ¼ c. finely diced onion
- 6 lg. eggs
- 1½ c. whole milk or half and half
- 2 c. grated Swiss cheese
- pinch cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat oven to 425℉.
- Sprinkle a board with flour and roll out puff pastry to fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Fit pastry in pie plate and refrigerate until ready to fill.
- Melt butter in a skillet. Cook prosciutto quickly, in batches, in butter, until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- Saute onion in skillet, until tender, adding more butter if needed.
- In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk until well blended. Add prosciutto, onion, cayenne, salt, and pepper and stir to blend.
- Remove pastry from refrigerator and put egg mixture into crust.
- Bake at 425℉ oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325℉ and continue cooking for 30 to 40 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
I have a question for the ladies out there. Do you ever take your purse and dump it out? Dump every little coin, paperclip, hair tie and piece of trash out of it? Then pick through the contents, get rid of those things that are cluttering it up and placing your necessities neatly back inside your purse.
With the painter almost finished here at our house I have been thinking about what I have that is really necessary and what can be considered clutter. It’s as if I have “dumped” it out and I am starting over. Just thinking about the purge makes me feel invigorated. Imagine if you will, how much better our lives would be if we applied “dumping the unnecessary” to ourselves. How much better would we feel to get rid of the negative thoughts that are cluttering our minds every day?
These muffins are wonderfully moist and delicious. The finishing touches are not necessary, but I love the added crunch on top. I promised easy recipes, and that is still my goal. This week’s recipe is easy, but I’m not sure how many of you will have almond paste lying around. These muffins are well worth the trip to the grocery store though. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks. One that is well worn with plenty of vanilla splashes and creased pages. Almond Poppy Seed Muffins is from Marcy Goldman’s The New Best of Better Baking.com. You may add one teaspoon of lemon extract and a little lemon juice for a fantastic lemon poppy seed muffins.
Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
- 1 c. sugar
- 4-oz. almond paste, minced
- ½ c. finely ground almonds
- ½ c. (4-oz.) unsalted butter
- ¼ c. canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sour cream
- ⅓ c. milk
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 2½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
- FINISHING TOUCHES
- Slivered almonds
- Coarse Sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the sugar and almond paste together well, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the ground almonds, butter, and oil and blend well. Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds and blend, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally to ensure nothing gets stuck in the well of the mixing bowl. If the mixture seems too loose, add a touch more flour. It should be the consistency of thick cake batter.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with some slivered almonds and sugar. Place the muffin cups on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, until the muffins are nicely browned and spring back when lightly touched. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.
I know that we all go through times in our lives when we simply get bogged down by the demands of life. Honestly, I have been going through one of those times for a few months now. I think there are several contributing factors which include an empty nest and Greg’s changing work schedule. I have come to realize that one thing that keeps me sane and grounded is writing to you!
I enjoy “talking” to you about the good things happening in my life, as well as the bad. I like running across old recipes to share and finding new favorite recipes to try for you. I feel a change coming to NJSD, and I’m not exactly sure what that change is going to be yet. With my changing life, my recipes also are in need of a rehaul. I believe I am moving in the direction of fresh, easy, few ingredient recipes. I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen at this point in my life.
I hope you also look forward to the new and exciting recipes that I will be bringing you in the future. As promised, I also plan to bring at least one healthy recipe a month your way, starting today!
These Healthy Nutty Bars are fresh and delicious. With the Paleo Bars from my blog as a guide, I set out to make a substitute to a store-bought nutty bar. I am thrilled with this final recipe! The nuts are crunchy, and with the addition of honey and dried fruit, they are a sweet treat too. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Healthy Nutty Bars
- 2 c. whole almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- ½ c. flax meal
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 c. rolled oats
- ½ c. apricots, chopped
- ½ c. dried cherries, chopped
- 12 Medjool dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ c. almond butter
- ½ c. coconut butter or coconut oil
- ½ c. local honey
- Toast almonds and walnuts in a 200°F oven. Remove and cool.
- In a large bowl combine the cooled nuts, chia seeds, flax meal, salt, rolled oats, apricots, and cherries.
- In a medium saucepan combine the almond butter, coconut butter (or oil), honey, and chopped dates. Stirring occasionally keep over heat until ingredients are combined and warm. Remove from heat and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add vanilla extract and process until dates are finely chopped Pour over the nuts and fruit and using a large spoon or spatula combine.
- Press the mixture into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with wax paper. Use the bottom of a glass to press it down tight so that they bars will be solid.
- Cover and refrigerate until firm, a couple of hours.
- Remove from pan using the wax paper, cut into small bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This week my beautiful mother celebrates her 77th birthday. The woman who has been my biggest cheerleader my entire life, my wise instructor who has loved me even during some very unloveable times.
My love for cooking began with her. When I grew up she prepared just about every meal we ate because in those days you didn’t pick up take-out and we only went to restaurants occasionally.
Everything was homemade, a luxury that I didn’t quite appreciate as a child. I remember spending the night with a friend once. The next morning her mother baked canned biscuits for us. I can recall it like it was yesterday because I thought that her mother had done the greatest thing and those canned biscuits were delicious to me at the time. I can remember wondering why we always had to have homemade biscuits. I probably came home and boasted about the wonderful biscuits that Sara’s mother fixed. I am sorry mama!!
Believe me; my thought process has changed! Now I understand the trouble she went to for her family. She was a “farm to table” person way before it was the popular thing.
There are not enough words in the English language to tell my mother just how much I appreciate all of those homemade biscuits; the advice, the spankings, and the love. She will probably never know how important she is to me, but I would not be here today without her.
In honor of my mother, I wanted to share her coffee cake recipe. My brother and I have always loved this. She made it for us on special occasions growing up and sometimes just to surprise us and she still makes it when we gather for Christmas brunch. It is easy enough to prepare before work or school. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as I have over the years.
Mama's Coffee Cake
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ¾ c. granulated sugar
- ¼ c. shortening
- 1½ c. self-rising flour
- ⅓ c. milk
- ½ c. sour cream
- Streusel Mixture:
- ½ c. brown sugar, packed
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- ½ c. chopped pecans
- Grease a 10-inch skillet and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, melted butter, and pecans. Set aside.
- Using a whisk, combine and egg, sugar, and shortening. Add flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in sour cream.
- Spread about half of the cake mixture in the prepared skillet. Sprinkle all of the streusel mixture over batter then drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the top. You can swirl with a knife if desired.
- Bake at 350° F for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.