Pintrest Post #7: Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake from Baking Bites ›

You want to follow this link to the recipe.  Trust me.  I picked up some Meyer Lemons in Maine when I was there last week (yes, I’m sure MA has them too, but they were 4 times the price as those I found in Maine).  

This cake would make a lovely addition to an Easter celebration.  My only change in the future would to be to cut cold (not melted) butter into the streusel topping.

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#coffee cake

Pintrest Post #6: Herbed Biscuits and Veggie Sausage Gravy

Confession:  I have never really liked “biscuits and gravy”.  I don’t know if this is part of my Northern New England/East Indian background or just the general “heaviness” of all the past biscuit and gravy situations I’ve eaten.  However, my darling hubby is from a biscuits, gravy, grits eating family and he went to college in the South so he is rather into the whole biscuits and gravy idea.  So when I saw several friends who pinned these Herbed Biscuits and Gravy from Bev Cooks I decided to repin and try in the future.  

That future came up quickly when I had some random bits of a variety of herbs left to use up and a couple Italian Sausage-less Sausages from Trader Joe’s.  Now I rarely (if ever) make the same dish two days in a row, but I made these biscuits two days in a row and then again to go with some soup later in the week.  The biscuits are light and with the addition of the herbs very flavorful.  

I adjusted the biscuit recipe to include more herbs and lightened the gravy recipe. The original recipe included pork sausage.  As a vegetarian there are some veggie sausage options out there.  For eating on their own I like Morning Star Breakfast Links, but for recipes that need a more traditional sausage application I use Trader Joe’s Italian Sausage-less sausages.  

Herbed Biscuits and Veggie Sausage Gravy adapted from Bev Cooks

Makes 8 servings

For Biscuits 

  •  2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 6 TBSP cold butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped (save whites for the gravy)
  • 1 TBSP freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP freshly chopped basil
  • 1 TBSP freshly chopped chives

For Gravy

  •  the remaining scallion whites, finely chopped
  • 2 Trader Joe’s Italian Sausage-less Sausages, crumbled
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 3/4 cup low fat (I used 1 %) milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Cut the butter into small chunks and crumble it into the flour until it’s sandy with some larger pea sized pieces of butter left.

Add the buttermilk, scallions, chives, basil and parsley. Stir until JUST combined. Don’t overdo it. It should be on the wet side.

Knead the dough a bit (I usually do this in the bowl).  Then dump it onto a piece of waxed paper.  Pat it into a square that is about an inch thick.  Divide dough into 8-10 pieces.  (if you need to have round biscuits cut dough into circles with a cookie cutter).  Just be sure not to overwork the dough or your biscuits will be tough.

Place biscuits on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes (or until golden)

While the biscuits are baking make your gravy.

Preheat a large skillet with a dribble of olive oil to medium-high. Break up the sausage and cook until browned. Add the scallion whites, and minced garlic and saute for an additional minute.

While the sausage is browning, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Once melted add the flour. Whisk until it becomes a nice golden paste, about a minute. Add the half and half, milk, cayenne, salt and the tsp of pepper. Whisk until thick and creamy.  Add the sausage to the cream sauce.  

Split the biscuits and cover with gravy.  


1 note




#veggie meat



Heart Trees and Banana Chocolate Bars


Every morning usually before 8 AM, M1 asks if she can “do a craft”.  She isn’t talking about the bin of coloring books that I bought for this express “craft making” time.  Oh, no she wants cutting, painting, glitter, stickers, creations of grand “artist” intent.  I wish that I was more innately crafty/artist.  I almost hesitate to tell people that I was once a craft director at a camp for 5 years.  While I can pour ceramics, make candles, fabric paint etc. my strengths in that position were teaching little kids who think anything that is entirely painted is a “masterpiece” and organizing.  I wish I was one of those people who can look at a random collection of household items and think “ohh I can make _______ this those”.  I tend to do a little better if there is a teaching objective involved.  I’ve been working on shapes with M2 and patterns with M1 (for some reason having my 3 and 4 year olds master the Geometry Common Core Standards for 1st grade sounded like a good idea) and created some, in my opinion, cute shapes crafts (post to come).  Other than that I spend more time on pintrest looking for various simple and cheap (seriously one can spend SO much on craft supplies) kids crafts.

I got the inspiration/idea for the heart trees from somewhere on pintrest.  I bought the Valentine’s heart stickers the day before V day when they went on 50% off.  I figured my MIL can get them late.  Basically just trace and cut out your kid’s hand and a portion of arm.  Glue to paper and them make “leaves” with heart stickers or cut out hearts from paper.  I put each kids initials and year in the “tree trunk”. 

Once again I had too many ripe bananas in the house.  I had already made banana bread, banana “ice cream”, and was looking for something else to make with bananas.  As banana cake is pretty similar to banana bread I wanted something different texturally.  When we lived in OH my hubby bought me Bon Appetit’s Dessert cookbook at Half Price Books (boy I miss that place)!  While I was looking in the index of all my cookbooks for banana related items I saw BA’s Banana-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks.  I adjusted the recipe a bit by cutting down on the sugar and using dark chocolate chips.

Banana-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Bars

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a jelly roll (18x13x1-inch) baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Blend first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, then vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and then chocolate chips.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 3x2-inch bars and serve








Belated Unromantic Valentine’s: Indian Food Pintrest Post #5

I hate Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure if it is a carry over from so many single V Day’s or just the profuse over commercialization of LOVE that irritates me.  I try for the sake of my daughter who is into ALL things pink, frilly, glittery, heart shaped, chocolate covered to get into the “holiday” spirit for a bit.  This year we made “heart trees” and banana chocolate chip bars (will post pictures and recipe in a second post).  

This year it is a good thing that I’m not into grand gestures from my darling hubby because my Valentine’s Day consisted of a doctor’s appointment and taking care of two rather cranky kids all day and into the night as Robert had a meeting at the school and didn’t get home until almost 11 pm.  I had hoped that he would get home for supper in between visits and his meeting, but that didn’t happen.  So the kids and I ate some Indian food (two new recipes…gasp) they ate banana chocolate chip bars.  

My kids aren’t usually that picky when it comes to food (at least compared to most of my friends’/family’s kids).  However, recently they’ve gotten into the habit of saying they love whatever I’m BAKING even when it is a new recipe and hating whatever I’m COOKING for actual meals (again even if they have never tried it).  I shouldn’t probably use sweets as motivation for trying new foods, but at this point that is what works so I have been using that card.  In general M2 loves anything with rice and the lentils were served over rice.  M1 is my least picky and usually wants salad with everything.  However, for this meal she decided to be particularly ornery and it was the promise of banana bars that got her through the meal.  

I recently found the blog US Marsala and have really enjoyed pinning recipes that I will be trying.  I couldn’t decide what to make Thursday and figured that as I had the ingredients in the pantry I would try a couple of her recipes.  So glad I did!

Jeera Aloo I didn’t have mango powder or asafoetida on hand so I left those out.  I also cut way down on the red chili because I wanted the kids to eat them.  It was still a wonderful dish and would make a great side to non-Indian food as well.  I think it is definitely one I will make for my Daddy in the future though I will make two batches one spicy and one not…

Coconut Daal

I usually make my Auntie Kavita’s Red Lentil Dal.  I love it because it is quick and easy and I always have the ingredients on hand.  But I was wanting something a little creamier and thought I would try this recipe.  Of course I realized part way into making it that I didn’t have quite enough split red lentils, so I threw in some whole red lentils to make up the difference.  The Indo-Pak grocery that was right down the road just moved 20+ minutes away, but I have a rather large list of things to get so I will be making the journey this week.  

Other changes to the recipe included leaving out the green chilies (again because of the kiddies) and as I mentioned the grocery had closed so I wasn’t able to get fresh curry leaves so I left those out.  Unless you live in an area with a good Indian or Pakistani grocery you won’t have those in a traditional grocery so you can make the recipe without them.  One other note:  if you can find them use black mustard seeds which are what us normally used in Indian food.  I have substituted yellow when I was in a pinch, but if you can find them use black.  

I made the lentils rather thick because that is what I felt like, but you can definitely add water and adjust seasoning.  I served them over rice.  Tasty!


#Indian food


Nemo Storm Food: Beans and Almonds Pintrest Post 4

 So this weekend we had a little snow storm in New England called Nemo.  You may have heard of it.  We had a bit over 2 1/2 feet.  I was concerned that we were going to lose power and so I did some baking and cooking in order to have some things that could be reheated using a generator and microwave.  Thankfully we didn’t lose power.  However, because I didn’t have an excuse to cook supper on Saturday I spent several hours outside shoveling snow with my hubby and kiddos.  

We tend to eat a lot of Mexican food at our house.  Everyone loves it and there is a lot of variety.  I usually keep some canned refried beans in the house all times.  I have a “go to” homemade black bean recipe that Robert likes, but nothing for “refried” style beans that I can just set and go. I saw a recipe for “refried” slow cooker beans on Pennies & Pancakes. It went right to my Pintrest board.  While I was on the site I also came across a recipe for Cinnamon Almonds that I thought I would try.  

The original recipe was for a larger amount, but as I have a 4-quart I cut the recipe in half.  I also changed up/added some seasonings.  As I have mentioned before I keep Mexican Oregano and Epazote at all times because of the aforementioned making lots of Mexican food.  

Slow Cooker “Refried” Beans

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic (can be from a jar)
  • 1/2-1 TBSP kosher salt (I used the lesser amount)
  • 7 turns of black pepper (up to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp epazote
  • 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 5-6 cups hot water (depending on how thin or thick you want your beans)

Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker/crock pot coated with cooking spray. Then you have a couple cooking options.  You can cook on high for 4 hours and then 2 hours on low.  Or 10-12 hours on low.  At the end of that time mash with a potato masher until you have reached your desired consistency (you can add more water if you would like).  

I use these beans in “haystacks” i.e taco salad, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas etc. Any left overs can be frozen if desired.

The second recipe from Pennies & Pancakes I tried was the Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Almonds.  Cook these and your house will smell awesome!  I changed things up a little and I would add more cinnamon in the future, though Robert thinks they are perfect.  I also cut the sugar some.  


Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Almonds

  • 1 egg white (I used egg white from a carton)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 (16 oz) bag raw almonds (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP vanilla sugar (or regular white sugar if you don’t have vanilla sugar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whip the egg white and vanilla until very frothy.  Add sugars, salt and cinnamon and stir to combine.  Add almonds and stir until almonds are well coated.  Spread on cookie sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes or until dry.  Stir every 15 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

If you don’t want to be addicted to another food, don’t make these.  So yummy!





#slow cooker

Nutella Pinwheel Cookies 
I made these cookies for a sad occasion.  As a pastor’s wife I may attend more funerals than most people.  Some are more difficult than others and as this funeral was for a long time family friend it ranks in the more difficult category.  
Blizzard Nemo make me change my original baking plans to something that would keep well for a couple days just in case I didn’t have electricity Saturday night.  These cookies had been in my wish list to make for a while so I decided to try them.  I had been a bit reticent to try them as pinwheel cookies can be tricky to work with dough wise.  Thankfully this dough wasn’t too finicky and it was rather cathartic to roll in out and smear with Nutella.  
I split up the recipe for the “cookie jar” at home and the one to bring.  In both situations the cookies got an excellent review.

Nutella Pinwheel Cookies 

I made these cookies for a sad occasion.  As a pastor’s wife I may attend more funerals than most people.  Some are more difficult than others and as this funeral was for a long time family friend it ranks in the more difficult category.  

Blizzard Nemo make me change my original baking plans to something that would keep well for a couple days just in case I didn’t have electricity Saturday night.  These cookies had been in my wish list to make for a while so I decided to try them.  I had been a bit reticent to try them as pinwheel cookies can be tricky to work with dough wise.  Thankfully this dough wasn’t too finicky and it was rather cathartic to roll in out and smear with Nutella.  

I split up the recipe for the “cookie jar” at home and the one to bring.  In both situations the cookies got an excellent review.





Nutella Day: Pintrest Post 3


Nutella Oatmeal Cookies

I personally don’t see the need for an official Nutella day, as in my opinion everyday is a Nutella day.  At this point I’m still not sure what I’m going to make for Nutella day as I have a number of pins on my "recipes I want to try" board. I have a number of contenders below and then some favorites from my blog and others that I’ve made in the past.  

Yummy things I’ve made with Nutella:




National Pancake Day: Pintrest Post 2

If you are a weirdo like me and try to keep up with national food days (tomorrow is Nutella Day!) you know today is National Pancake Day (otherwise know as free pancake day at IHOP).  If you don’t have a local IHOP or don’t want to brave the crowds you can always make some at home.  I didn’t make any for breakfast.  At our house pancakes often get eaten for supper.  My sister recently mentioned on Facebook that “since breakfast is the most important meal of the day…we have it for supper all the time!”.  Maybe it is a family thing, but when I’m in need of a quick supper and don’t want any whining from the kids about not wanting to eat something, I make breakfast for supper.  

Last week I had random bits of vegetables that I needed to use up and some lemons that were languishing away.  So I made a veggie fritatta and these Lemon Yogurt Pancakes that I had pinned from Baking Bites. These pancakes are reminiscent of my lemon ricotta pancakes in taste, but a bit more substantial in texture.  I made the recipe as is except for the addition of a 1/2 tsp of lemon extract.  I served them with applesauce and maple syrup as I only had tangerine and pineapple curds not lemon.  Below is a picture of the fritatta and the pancakes while cooking.  If you aren’t feeling the lemon pancakes there are some links to others suggestions for your National Pancake Day pleasure!

Veggie Fritatta

Cooking away.

Apple-Maple Sugar Pancakes

Orange Ricotta Pancakes

Almond Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes






Hello, I’m a Pintrest Addict (Post 1: Honeybell Italian Soda))

I. Seriously. Spend. Too. Much. Time. On. Pintrest.  I went on a short break for a couple days, but then I’m right back at it.  It doesn’t help that I use the site for networking my TPT teaching resource store. Then I’m also working on the crafts and decorating resources for our upcoming winter VBS, which of course brings me to more searching around Pintrest.  Of course, while I’m looking for those things I find more recipes that I want to try.  I currently have a stack of cookbooks from the library sitting near me that I’m going through.  I bookshelf with cookbooks I own that I’m still trying to work my way through and then there is my "recipes I want to try" board.  

The problem with this board is that probably 80-85% of it is dessert recipes.  I can only make so many desserts a week (though I’m pretty sure that my family would disagree).  Last week I decided that I needed to actually start trying to make some of those “recipes I want to try”. 

It is citrus season and my lovely aunt and uncle sent my family some Honeybells (mix of tangerines and ruby red grapefruit) from Florida.  In addition my husband bought a box of citrus from our local church school.  I was really glad to see they were Honeybells as we are big fans! I decided to use them to make a version of this Blood Orange Italian Soda. 

As I have mentioned in the passed I love my electronic citrus juicer.  It really takes all the of pulp and juice out of each half of the orange.  

This recipe starts with an orange simple syrup.  If you are on a sugar fast (like my sister) you can use agave.  

1 cup of water

1 cup sugar

1 orange with zest taken off with a peeler in large strips.

Place water, sugar, and zest in a small saucepan.  Bring to a low boil stirring occasionally to be sure sugar is dissolving.  Once sugar is dissolved remove from heat and cool.  Remove zest and store in the refrigerator.

Sparkling water (I used Poland Springs Mandarin orange sparkling water)

Freshly squeezed orange juice.  

I poured my glass 2/3 full of juice, added about 1/4 cup sparkling water and 1 TBSP simple syrup (feel free to add more if you like it sweeter).  Yummy and refreshing!





And my baby turns 3: Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting


The birthday boy and his cupcake.

So this is the deal…M2 was supposed to stay a baby forever.  I’m not really okay with having a 3 and 4 year old.  Not that I want to go back to sleepless nights (this one didn’t sleep through the night until he was a year old) and all that.  There will be no more babies.  But I wasn’t quite so prepared for the transition he has made since we moved of looking like a toddler to a little boy.  All of a sudden he is tall without the “baby fat” and growing out of everything.  As age 3 was far worse than the “terrible 2s” for M1 I’m really scared of having a 3 year old with a 4 year old when so far 4 is more attitude than 3 for my little miss. Booo hoo, hoo right.

All that being said he is still very into trains.  However, this year instead of making a literal train wreck of a cake I decided to be safe and make some cupcakes and train toppers. 

M2 likes “bwown” flavored cupcakes so I broke out my tried and true Devil’s food cupcake recipe and Nutella frosting.  A couple things about these cupcakes.  They are chocolate-y without being heavy.  The consistency is light and moist. So far every time I’ve made this recipe they have come out really well.  I’ve done a variety of frostings/fillings as well which are nicely complemented by the lightness of the cupcakes.  Now for the “but”…Robert doesn’t think they are knock you over the head chocolate-y.  In his opinion chocolate cupcakes should be more dense in texture and wicked strong on the chocolate taste.  As I’m the one who does the baking I win as far as what gets baked.  However, if you like my DH feel the need for a heavier chocolate hand feel free to add some chopped or shaved dark or bittersweet chocolate chips to the batter.  I’m guessing that will increase the chocolate factor.  

A note on the frosting…if you read this blog you know I’m in full favor of the Nutella craze.  This frosting is lovely!  When making it you might be a little scared by the texture.  However, once you drizzle in the cream and beat for a moment it will turn light and fluffy.  Depending on how much frosting you like you will have a bit more than necessary (or just enough if you like piping big clouds of it) for 12 cupcakes.  If you do have some left just pop it in the fridge and use it to make cookie sandwiches (shortbread is lovely), spread on an English muffin for a snack or just eat it off a spoon.  

Devil’s Food Cupcakes (from Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins)

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  (I use regular not Dutch process)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • dark/bittersweet chocolate shavings/chunks (optional)

In a small cup, mix together cocoa powder and boiling water until cocoa dissolves.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well.  Mix in vanilla and cooled cocoa until combined. If using chocolate shavings/chunks I would add them now.

In a separate bowl stir flour, baking soda and salt together with a whisk (or shift into the bowl).

Add flour mixture on low to the butter mixture in several batches, alternating with the buttermilk (beginning and ending with flour mixture) just until a batter forms.  Spoon better into cupcake cups filling each about two-thirds full.  

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack until at room temperature.  Frost or store in and airtight container in a refrigerator for several days.

Nutella Frosting (adapted slightly from Ina Garten)

  • 3/4-1 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 cup creamy Nutella
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together powdered sugar, Nutella, butter, vanilla and salt on medium-low speed until creamy (scrape down sides as needed).  With the mixer on drizzle in the heavy cream.  Once all the cream is in the frosting beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.  

Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.  You can also make a small hollow (with apple corer) in the cupcake and pipe some frosting in for “filled” cupcakes.  

Keep any leftovers (yeah right) in the refrigerator.

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