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Pin Me ~ Week Five ~ from my Recipes Board ~ Pumpkin Cornbread

4 Feb

So I hadn’t planned on doing another pin from my recipe board so soon….but sometimes necessity wins out.

The motor on the furnace blew and it’s C-O-L-D. Making something in the oven at least heats up the kitchen a bit so that’s why I went in search of a yummy recipe. And I found one in this Pumpkin Cornbread.

If you love pumpkin as much as I do, head over to Sweet Pea’s Kitchen for all matter of yummy pumpkin goodness.

crumble with butter

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses

Directions:

photo(3)

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.

dry

Dry ingredients

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.

wet

Wet Ingredients

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top.

mixed

Wet and dry ingredients combined

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

baked

Fresh from the oven

Recipe Note:
This recipe makes 12 cornbread muffins, reduce baking time to 10 to 12 minutes

crumbly

Crumbly goodness

After trying it with and without a dab of butter, I decided to drizzle some honey over the top. YUM!

honey

Drizzled with honey

Happy Thang: Eating pumpkin….anything.

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Week Three ~ from my Recipes Board ~ Homemade Pumpkin Eggnog Donuts

22 Jan

plate full of donutsI’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on my blog. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know I love all things pumpkin. So it is no surprise when I found a recipe for eggnog baked donuts, that my variety would be of the pumpkin kind.

God bless my Sweetheart for buying up the pumpkin eggnog before it disappeared. I’m down to my last pint. It will be sad when it’s all gone, but that’s ok, I will just have to find other pumpkin goodies to occupy me until next Christmas.

So, it’s week three of my Pin Me ~ 52 Weeks of Actually Doing Something with my Pinterest Pins. I couldn’t resist making baked donuts. They turned out so good, that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to Dunkin’ Donuts again!*

My hat is off to Robin at Knead to Cook. Her donut recipe is divine! (Which according to her post is an adaptation from Ina Garten). I had a few little comments to add (you’ll see them in red below).

Ingredients:

Baking spray
Donut pans (I used mini size)
2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cup of eggnog
2 tablespoons of butter, melted (always use unsalted so you can control your sodium)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Topping:

8 tablespoons of butter, melted on the stove over low heat source
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
**I used 4 tablespoons and 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and still had some left over.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your donut pans and set aside.

In you a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Sift the dry ingredients once.

In a separate smaller bowl, blend the egg, eggnog, butter and vanilla.  Whisk to combine.  Then add to the dry ingredients. Whisk until incorporated.  Then fill each donut well about 1/2 or a tiny bit more with the batter. I used my one tablespoon measuring spoon and this filled them perfectly. Bake.  For regular sized donut pans, bake for 17-19 minutes.  For mini donuts, bake for about 9-11 minutes.  When a toothpick inserted comes out clean, the donuts are ready.

Remove and let cool for 4 minutes.  Mix the topping ingredients in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Then dip one side in the melted butter and then dip into the cinnamon and sugar topping mixture.   Place on a platter and watch them disappear.

So I bought my mini-donut pan at Marshall’s for $9.99. This just might be the best pan I own. My thighs won’t think so, but my taste buds certainly do.

batterYou’ll notice in the recipe that it says to melt 2 tablespoons of butter. I thought I had done this in the microwave. It wasn’t a complete puddle, but it seemed soft enough that it would all go flat. It did not. So I ended up with little clumps of butter in my batter. This had me worried that the donut would come out bumpy or extra buttery or just weird. I’m pleased to say that none of those things happened. However, I would still recommend melting your butter to save yourself this kind of stress in the morning (especially if it happens before you’ve had your morning coffee).

The first batch needed a little help getting out of the pan because I hadn’t sprayed it too heavily. This resulted in me banging the pan against my hand to get the last hold out which then cool donutspromptly fell on the floor. (Notice my pan holds 12 donuts, not eleven).  The next two batches I sprayed the heck out of that pan and every one came out with ease.

Every oven is different but I found that mine were baked to perfection at 9 minutes. So I’d say set your timer for 9 and check on ’em. Your little darlings might need the full 11 minutes, but best to be safe than sorry.

I liked the donuts plain and with the cinnamon/sugar/butter topping. My Sweetheart preferred them with the topping. Good chance if your guy likes donuts, he’ll prefer it that way, too.

I wrapped them in plastic wrap (and by I, I mean, my Sweetheart did as after I popped four of them in my mouth — had to test two with and two without cinnamon/sugar/butter goodness — I left the house to meet a friend for lunch) and the next day (meaning this morning) they were still moist and delicious. Ha! Take that Dunkin’ Donuts.**

Thought you might enjoy a few other pics of the process.

half-full batter, remember tablespoon measuring spoon works well for this

half-full batter, remember tablespoon measuring spoon works well for this

here they are fresh from the oven

without cinnamon/sugar/butter topping

without cinnamon/sugar/butter topping

with cinnamon/sugar/butter topping

*You and I both know that I’ll be craving a donut and will be too lazy to make them, even though it’s totally easy. So the answer is no, I will most certainly, be going back to Dunkin’ Donuts.

**The truth of the matter is, I’ve never turned away a Dunkin’ Donuts donut, even if it wasn’t wrapped in plastic wrap and was a little dry the next day. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a donut I didn’t like. Scratch that. I have. Not fond of those jelly filled ones. But I make a practice of not ordering that kind and problem solved.

The Yummiest and Easiest Apple Pie Recipe

16 Oct

This is the easiest and yummiest apple pie recipe you will ever try. Most of ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. If you live in an area where you can go apple picking—DO IT! Nothing like the taste of homemade pie made from apples you picked fresh.

A few years ago I went apple picking at Longmeadow Farm and they handed out a small booklet of recipes. This one is called “Grandmom’s Apple Pie”…so you know it’s gonna be good.

Here’s what you’ll need:

♥ 5 to 6 cooking apples (Rome apples are a good choice – I used Cameo apples this time)

♥ 3/4 cup sugar

♥ 3 Tbs corn starch

♥ 2 Tbs lemon juice (you can get this amount from two freshly squeezed lemons)

♥ 3 Tbs cinnamon

♥ 1/4 tsp nutmeg

♥ 3 Tbs butter

♥ dash of salt

♥ 2 pie crusts (top and bottom – I use Pillsbury pre-made – you can find them in refrigerated section of grocery store)

♥ 9-inch pie plate (you can find aluminum ones at grocery store, Wal-Mart or Target)

 

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425.

Step 2: If using Pillsbury Pie crusts, remove from fridge so crusts have 15 minutes at room temperature.

Step 3: Peel and slice apples.

Step 4: Put apples in bowl, add lemon juice and toss. (Tip: roll lemons back & forth before cutting to get the most juice from your lemons).

Step 5: Press bottom pie crust into pie plate. Trim off excess dough around edges. Sprinkle some of the sugar, 1 Tbs of cinnamon and 1 Tbs of corn starch in bottom of crust.

Step 6: Put half of the apple slices in crust.

Step 7: Add half of sugar, 1 Tbs of cinnamon, half of the nutmeg and 1 Tbs of corn starch.

Step 8: Repeat layering of apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and corn starch.

Step 9: Apples will pile high in pie crust. Dot with butter. Add dash of salt.

Step 10: Top apples with second crust. Seal crust. Cut vents in top.

Step 11: For easy clean-up, put aluminum foil over a cookie sheet. Put pie on cookie sheet and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

Step 12: Serve pie with a scoop of ice cream (pumpkin ice cream is particularly good).

Mmmm…Heart Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

21 Jan

So right before the holidays, I read Lisa Leonard’s blog and Poppy’s at Play blog both talked about making heart-shaped cinnamon rolls. Wanting to show my man some love on Christmas day, I got up early to make coffee and the rolls.

I should have paid attention to the size of baking dish that Andy Porter (Poppies at Play) used for hers. But since Lisa made her’s on a baking sheet, I figured it didn’t matter so I used my larger glass dish. I thought I would be giving the cinnamon rolls space to grow, but as you will see from the photos below, they could have used smaller quarters.

Here’s what I will do differently next time:
1) keep them in a small square dish so they touch one another
2) put a little extra butter in the middle when I roll the dough so when I pinch the bottoms to make the point of the heart shape, they will stay together

Supplies needed:
1 package of seamless sheet of dough

For the filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
(mix ingredients together)

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons milk (or water)
(mix all ingredients together until smooth)

My sweetheart said the ones that didn’t turn out looking like hearts tasted just as good as the ones that do.

Here goes the recipe and the process:

1) Buy a seamless sheet of dough (mine was from Pillsbury)

2) Mix 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (Note: I didn’t end up using all of this. I probably had enough to make another batch. I could have also spread a thicker layer on the dough, but I kept it fairly thin on this try).

3) Spread out dough and using a pastry brush, cover the entire sheet with melted butter. I melted two tablespoons in the microwave.

4) Next spread the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture all over dough.

5) Now roll the left side up to the middle. Then roll the right side up to meet in the middle. Here’s what it looks like from the top:

and here’s what it looks like from the side:

6) Cut the dough in about 2 inch slices. You want to get 8 or 9 hearts out of it. Pinch the bottom point on each one to form heart. (Note: I plan on brushing a little more butter on the inside of the point next time to see if it makes it stick better). I sprayed a baking dish with some Pam (Note: Next time I am planning on using a smaller dish so the hearts touch) but here’s what they looked like in the larger dish.

7) Follow instructions on package to bake. When done, remove from oven and let cool.

8) For the glaze, mix 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2 teaspoons of milk (you could also use water). Mix all together until smooth and then drizzle on top of cinnamon rolls.

9) Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

10) Enjoy!

Happy Moment of the Day: Knowing that when you make this recipe, you are going to have a sweet day!

Don’t Let Your New Year’s Resolution Set You Up For Failure

3 Jan

My sweetheart and I have a New Year’s Eve tradition. We go for a very, relaxing massage, then it’s time for yummy Thai food and board games with our friends. Sometimes we host. Sometimes they host. But it’s a fun, casual way to spend the evening just enjoying one another’s company.

At the end of the evening (actually, it was the early morning), I asked what their New Year’s resolutions were. She shrugged and said, “I don’t have any.” He made a disgruntled face and said, “I don’t make them anymore because I never keep them anyway.” 

He wasn’t my only friend that wasn’t participating in this yearly tradition. I felt the same way a few years ago, but I think it’s because we set our goals too high. New Year’s resolutions have become extreme edicts whereby we promise to drop 50 pounds by June 1. Where we will no longer eat carbs, drink soda and we promise to get a full eight hours of sleep every night. We’re going to save $10,000 in the next year and we will single-handedly bring about world peace.

Well no wonder we feel defeated before we ever get started.

Two years ago I decided that my New Year’s resolution wasn’t going to be so specific and demanding. I wouldn’t put a strict guideline on what I was or was not going to do. I was going to  make it broad and general and when the moment presented itself, I would make that resolution come true.

In 2009, my new year’s resolution was a quote. “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

On January 1, when I made that declaration, I had no idea what that was. I only knew that in the next 365 days I was going to attempt something.

In August of 2008, a director/actor friend and playwright/producer friend and I sat on my patio furniture and talked about wanting to finally do the work we wanted to do. Yes, we all had success with other theatre companies, directors, producers, etc. and we had enjoyed the work we had done. But we longed to do the things we really wanted to do. The roles we hadn’t played. The shows that we wanted to direct. The venues where we wanted to produce. So in April 2009, I wrote a comedy about the pitfalls of social media. About the same time, the three of us got together again and decided to make it happen.  That year, I wrote, produced and starred in not one, but two of my plays in NYC. Could it have failed? Well, sure. But did it? No. Because I didn’t even let that thought enter my mind. We played to a sold out run.

In 2010, I decided to go the way of the quote again. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  – Harold Whitman

On February 8 of that year, I opened my Etsy shop.  I had been wanting to sell online and Etsy made it so easy. With them doing the nuts and bolts of having an online presence, I could concentrate on my artistic endeavors. This was also the year I was selected to be part of the Estrogenius Art Festival in NYC. I was fortunate enough to have three of my paintings in that art show.

It’s with no surprise, that I have decided to keep with my quote tradition. My 2012 New Year’s Resolution: “She decided to start living the life she had imagined.” (I believe this quote is taken from the book “She” by Kobi Yamada).

I’m excited! I have an entire year to do all the amazing things I have imagined doing. I’ll paint more. I’ll read lots. I’ll go to Metropolitan Museum of Art to sketch. I’ll float in my pool and leave the dusting for tomorrow. I’ll wear more sparkles. I’ll learn to walk in heels. I’ll cook new recipes. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I learn to play the cello.

Happy Moment of the Day: That after all those holiday cookies, eggnog and delicious dinners out….I am still 40 pounds thinner than I was 2 years ago!

Welcome Out of Town Guests

26 Oct

Out of town guests.  

You either love ’em or hate ’em.

I happen to LOVE playing host to out-of-town guests. It’s a lot of fun to stay up late playing board games or hang out on the patio furniture in the morning, sipping coffee and enjoying a good conversation.

Depending on if you will be spending time with the guests for their entire visit or sending them to do some stuff on their own, here’s some hints and tips for making their stay memorable.

1. If you have a photo of the two of you having fun in the past, put it in a bedside frame. They’ll get a kick out of remembering the good times you’ve shared.

2. Ask them what their favorite drink or snack is and have that available. A little comfort from their home or normal routine is well…comforting.

3. In the guest room, have a couple of books that highlight your town or state. A few recent magazines to flip through and some funny DVDs for them to unwind at the end of the day is always appreciated.

4. Make up a little basket of all those things you have forgotten when you travel: toothpaste, tooth-brush, floss, deodorant, soap, lotion, hair gel, razor, Tylenol, tissues, mints.

5. If you are sending them out to explore on their own, be sure to have maps and review with them where they will be going. Let them know about any discounts or tips for getting around.

6. Make home-made muffins or brownies for those early risers or late night snackers.

 7. Bring them to your “Cheers” (you know the place you frequent and everyone knows your name). They’ll enjoy the extra warmth and great service that gets extended to you.

8. Don’t focus on the tourist stuff only. Take them to a farmers market, an out-of-the-way store that only locals know about or an area where they can appreciate the current season (for instance, the folks visiting this past weekend were from the south, so a quick ride to a town that had beautiful trees with gorgeous fall leaves was a real treat for them, not to mention photo ops galore)!

9. It’s nice to go out to restaurants, but a delicious home cooked meal is always appreciated.

10. And most importantly, don’t forget the small chocolates on the pillow.  

Happy Moment of the Day: A one-liner joke courtesy of Reader’s Digest

“I often wonder about people who live in tropical destinations. What do their screen savers look like? …”

The Portobello Mushroom–Meaty Goodness

3 Aug

I love all mushrooms, but I heart the Portobello mushroom the most. It’s the vegetarian equivalent of a hamburger. It’s thick, rich and delicious. You can cook it on the grill or in a pan. Keep it simple with just some olive oil and herbes de provence  or you can slice it, dice it and dress it up all nice and pretty.

Last night I made the best recipe I have ever tasted… 

The recipe comes courtesy of the Mayo Clinic’s website. It’s the first one I tried from them, but now I am anxious to dig into some others. I made this on the grill (wrapped it in foil). I am sure this is simply divine with provolone, but I didn’t have any of that in the house last night so I made it with a slice of mozzarella. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and wiped clean
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated (1 ounce) provolone cheese

Directions

Preheat the broiler (grill). Position the rack 4 inches from the heat source. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place the mushrooms in the dish, stemless (gill) side up.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, rosemary and garlic. Pour the mixture over the mushrooms. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to marinate.

Broil (grill) the mushrooms, turning once, until they’re tender, about 4 minutes on each side. Sprinkle grated cheese over each mushroom and continue to broil (grill) until the cheese melts. Transfer to individual plates and serve immediately.

Nutritional Analysis

(per serving)

Serving size: 1 mushroom
Calories 100 Cholesterol 10 mg
Protein 6 g Sodium 138 mg
Carbohydrate 10 g Fiber 1 g
Total fat 4 g Potassium 465 mg
Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 114 mg
Monounsaturated fat 1 g    

Mmmmm…Smells Good!

12 Jul

I want my books and plays to smell.

Not in a scratch and sniff kind of way, but rather I want the reader/audience member to experience the sense of smell in the scene. Not all scenes. Just ones where it would add another dimension to the piece.

In an effort to write more about smell, I decided to come up with a top five list of my favorite smells. Here goes…

1. Pie hot from the oven.

2. My man’s deodorant (especially when I am snuggled up in the nook of his arm).

3. Coffee in the morning.

4. Flowers. Any kind.

5. The air at the ocean.

What are you favorite smells? Are you writer? If so, how do you work in smells to your writing?

Happy Moment of the Day (actually a quote about smells—how apropos is that?): “Nothing is more memorable than a smell.  One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town.  Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.  Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.  A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth”.  ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

It’s A Learn Something New Kind of Weekend

13 May
So I try to learn something new as often as I can. This weekend, I have three things in mind:I love to try interesting recipes and this one just sounds yummy with a capital “Y”. Thanks Girly Girl Army for listing it in this week’s newsletter

Spinach Strawberry Salad
Yield 8 Servings                                                                                               

Ingredients
•    1/2 Cup Olive Oil
•    1/3 Cup Cashews
•    1/4 Cup Warm Water                                                                                 
•    3 Tablespoons Agave
•    1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
•    2 Teaspoons White Vinegar
•    3/4 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
•    2 Cloves Garlic
•    2 (6 Ounce) Packages Baby Spinach Leaves
•    1/2 Cup Chopped Cashews
•    1 Cup Sliced Strawberries
•    1/2 Cup Sliced Fresh Mushrooms (Optional)
Directions: Blend The Olive Oil, 1/3 Cup Cashews, Warm Water, Agave, Lemon Juice, White Vinegar, Soy Sauce, And Garlic In A Blender Until Smooth And Creamy; Chill In Refrigerator For 1 Hour.  Toss The Spinach, 1/2 Cup Chopped Cashews, Strawberries, And Mushrooms In A Large Bowl Until Mixed; Drizzle Chilled Dressing Over The Salad And Toss Lightly.                         

I also want to figure out how to use my weighted hula hoop. Apparently there is something called Hoop Dancing. Since I belly dance, I figure I can handle these moves. It looks super cool, but I am wondering if the waterfall and shaggy leg warmers are required? Hmmm. 

And then after I have eaten my salad, and hooped danced myself to a sexy new figure, I think I’ll kick back and paint my nails. If I can pull off this newspaper technique, I think it will look wicked cool! Thanks BUST Magazine for the instructions.

Have a fabulous girly weekend!

Your Happy Moment for the Day:
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”  –Ella Fitzgerald

This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Meatloaf

18 Apr

Tried a new recipe today, courtesy of the Whole Foods website, and I had just had to share this yummy goodness.

My Notes:
I substituted baby bella mushrooms
I used fresh thyme
I didn’t add red onion
I followed the instructions on quinoa package and used veggie broth for my liquid.

photo courtesy of Whole Foods website

I made the entire package of quinoa and so I had left overs. I am going to toss it with some dried cranberries, almond slices, ricotta salata and purple grapes and eat it cold tomorrow.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup (about 1 onion) chopped red onion

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch loaf pan with oil; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put beans, oats and 1/2 cup water into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, bean mixture, quinoa, peas, parsley, tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan, gently pressing down and mounding it in the middle. Bake until firm and golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Set aside to let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Per serving (about 6oz/172g-wt.): 170 calories (35 from fat), 4g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 8g protein