Individual Cinnamon Tea Cakes with a Cup of Pumpkin Spice Tea #Giveaway

*This giveaway is now officially closed.  The lucky winner (Kat) has been notified by email.  Thanks to everyone for joining in on the fun!  And a special thanks to Stash Tea Smile

I am die hard coffee drinker.  But…  Once upon a time, I was strolling through the isles of our grocery store when I happened upon a display of Stash Tea.  The boxes were pretty, the flavors sounded delicious, and the price was right.  And that’s all she wrote.

From my very first box of Christmas Eve Tea I was hooked, and I never looked back.  There are a lot of times when I reach for a cup of tea over coffee now.

I recently wrote the folks at Stash Tea Company and I complimented them on their tea.  I’m a strong believer that if a product is good then you should tell the people that produce it that you enjoy it.  And I’m also believe that if a product is not so good, then they should hear about that too.  How will they improve it if they don’t know there is a problem?

I am excited to report Stash Tea has offered to host a giveaway here on my blog.  Yea!!!  This means that you all have a chance to win some delicious Stash Tea products to enjoy too. Yea again!!!

In honor of this event, I decided to make some Individual Cinnamon Tea Cakes.

These little cakes are moist, tender and delicious.  They go perfectly with a nice cup of tea, and they will leave you hankering for another one.  I served Pumpkin Spice decaf tea with these and they complimented each other well.

Individual Cinnamon Tea Cakes

1 stick of margarine, softened

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 c. Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1/4 c. skim milk

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Filling

2 tbsp. margarine, refrigerated

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. brown sugar

Prepare the filling by mixing all ingredients together.  Mixture should be crumbly.

This recipe makes 1 dozen individual cakes. Line cupcake tins with cupcake papers.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, egg, and sugar.  Add salt, baking powder, yogurt, skim milk, and flour; mix thoroughly.  Fill cupcake papers 1/2 full with batter.  Sprinkle cinnamon filling on top of the batter, then add a dollop of batter on top of the filling.  The papers should be about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle any remaining filling on top.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool completely before removing from pans.  Store in airtight container.

Okay, now back to the giveaway.

Below is a picture of the giveaway prize.  Minus the sprig of pine.

 (1) boxed set of Cranberry Pomegranate herbal tea and Pumpkin Spice decaf tea,  (1) 4.4 oz. can of Mulling Spice, and (1 ) beautiful Woodgrain Mug.

To enter please do the following:  Visit Stash Tea Company and browse their website.  Then, come back here and in the comments section, tell me which one of their cups or mugs is your favorite and what kind of tea you would enjoy sipping from it.  

I have to tell you this isn’t an easy task because they have the most beautiful cups and mugs I’ve ever seen, and all of their teas sound delicious to me.  But with that said, this just might help you start (or finish) your holiday shopping!

Rules of the giveaway:  Open to US residents only; (1) entry per person; winner will be selected on or about Saturday, November 16, 2013; winner will be notified by email, if winner does not respond an alternate winner will be selected; winner must provide a valid street address (sorry, no post office boxes) for shipping purposes only. 

Happy browsing and good luck!

I received the Stash Tea products featured in this blog post.  I was not compensated for my work, and my opinions are my own.

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2012 Holiday Gift Ideas

I  like to believe that nearly everyone has the capacity to give meaningful gifts that won’t break their banks.  Today, I’m going to make a few suggestions to get you thinking outside of the box this holiday season.  The good news; there is still plenty of time to brainstorm and come up with your own great and doable gift giving ideas.

1.)  The gift of time.  Pick something that you’re good at, or comfortable doing. and give the gift of time; organizing, snow shoveling, babysitting, pet walking, car washing, photography, handyman work, etc., and   make a gift certificate for the gift recipient.  To avoid confusion, make sure the certificate is job and time specific.  It’s also a good idea to write your phone number on the certificate with the message; call and let’s set a date!

2.)  Cook.  For years, I have made it a habit to make homemade meals to give.  They are always a huge hit.  I like to prepare foods that can be frozen and reheated later.  Trust me when I say that recipients of these gifts will gladly make room in their freezers for a batch of  your homemade meatballs, lasagna, mac & cheese, meatloaf, quiche, or homemade soup. 

3.)  Bake.  While cookies are one of the most popular treats to give during the holidays, try zeroing in on Christmas morning.  I don’t know many people that would be disappointed with a big pan of homemade cinnamon rolls, a delicious breakfast casserole, or even a tasty breakfast pizza that they can enjoy while opening presents.  Make sure your recipient knows in advance that you will be delivering a special treat.

4.)  Craft or Create.  I don’t know about you, but I love receiving handcrafted gifts.  My mother in-law is a wonderful quilter.  She produces some of the most beautiful quilted projects I’ve ever seen.  I love receiving something she makes for a couple reasons.  One, I’m a horribly impatient person when it comes to sewing and  I know my limitations.   And two, her work is so beautiful that if I wanted to purchase something similar, it would cost me a fortune.  These quilts are now treasured heirlooms – just like the ones my mother made and I now cherish.

And while I’m not quite as creative as my mother was, or mother in-law is, I can come up with a few inexpensive gifts to make all on my own.

Sometimes a batch of homemade hot cocoa, a pretty little cup to serve it in,  peppermint sticks to dip in the cocoa, and a handmade card make the perfect gift. 

 

What are you asking for this holiday season?  World peace, good health and prosperity, a spa day,   gift cards, help around the house, clothes,  a new car, or something else? 

Making Gifts to Give

Yes, it’s almost that time of year, and yes, they have already started playing holiday music in the stores.  I prefer to skip the chaos in the stores this time of year, and spend my time in my craft room and kitchen instead. 

Personal and homemade gifts are perfect for just about anyone on your list, but they are especially nice for the teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, co-workers, hairdressers, mail persons, and the paper boys on your list.

I picked up these plastic containers at a dollar store – 3 for $1.00.  With a little scrapbooking paper, embellishments, and a rubber stamp, I made these cute little paper bows and gift tags to decorate them with.  Very inexpensive to make, yet bright and festive.

And of course you need to fill the little boxes, so I  found a perfect recipe for that too.  I made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars from a recipe in the Kraft Food & Family Holiday 2006 Magazine.  I will be sharing the recipe with you in a later post, so make sure you don’t miss it.

The secret to making your own gifts to give, is giving yourself enough time to make them.  Start your projects now so that you won’t be overwhelmed trying to do it at the last minute. 

Do you like to shop till ya drop, or do you like spending time making your own gifts to give?  Or, do you like to do a little of both?

Holiday Gift Ideas with Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Country Living magazine is one of my favorites.  I receive it as Christmas present every year and I always look forward to finding it in my mail box each month.  Magazines make great gifts because they are relatively inexpensive and the recipient can enjoy them throughout the whole year. Think about that when you’re can’t decide on a gift for that hard to buy for person on your list.  Country Living happens to have great recipes, decorating ideas, clever craft projects, and information on the hippest collectibles. (Note – Country Living is not compensating me to say this.  It’s just the truth.)

I have a couple other great gift suggestions that I’ll get to by the end of this post, so please follow along.  (None of the other companies are compensating me either.  It’s just the truth too!)

The November 2011 issue of Country Living sports some pretty delicious looking recipes that remind us readers of next months anticipated feast – Thanksgiving.  I was particularly enamored by a recipe for Pumpkin Cheese Bread, a rustic, wholesome looking bread with an intriguing line up of ingredients.

Because this recipe caught my fancy, I decided to make the bread, or should I say a slightly modified version of it.  I LOVE the way the bread turned out.  The flavor and light, soft texture are perfect. I know it won’t be long and I’ll be making more. It’s going fast – too fast!  With a few tricks up my sleeve I modified the recipe so is not identical to Country Living’s printed version.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 1/4 c. for 1st kneading

1 tbsp. light brown sugar 

1 tbsp. yeast

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. Aji Amarillo chilies, dried and minced fine

1/8 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon

1/2 tsp. butternut squash seed oil

3/4 c. pureed pumpkin

1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese

1 c. water

In a large bowl; add flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, dried pepper, cinnamon, squash seed oil, pumpkin puree and cheddar cheese.  Lightly stir ingredients until blended.  Pour in water and mix by hand until all ingredients are combined. * I did not use a mixer for this recipe.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface (using the 1/4 cup of flour you set aside).  Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball.  Place ball in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set in draft free location and rise until doubled.

On lightly floured surface; punch dough down and roll into two loaves.  Place in greased bread pans, cover, and let rise until nearly doubled. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Turn onto cooling racks and brush with butter.

pumpkin bread 049

If you really want to make the most of your bread then make a fresh sandwich with it.  This sandwich is complete with turkey, lettuce, tomato, Hellman’s mayo, Naples Valley Brand Mild Mustard, and black pepper.

sandwiches 007

Now, I promised to share some more great gift giving ideas with you.  These ideas are perfect for the foodies in your life.  The ones that like to eat, and the ones that like making good eats.

1.) MarxFoods.com offers the most unique line of specialty foods and ingredients I’ve ever seen in one place.  Whether your looking for dried chilies like I used in my recipe, truffles, edible flowers, whole spices, or frog legs, you will find it at Marx Foods.  Their orders ship the same day if you order by 10AM Eastern time, or you can choose your delivery date at checkout.  All of their prices include shipping. 

2.) King Arthur Flour is a US 100% employee owned/100% committed to quality company. They are located in Norwich, Vermont. They offer  top of the line baking supplies and tools. From secret ingredients like their robust boiled cider, to the Vietnamese cinnamon I used in my bread, to pre-made mixes of just about any kind,  or their cute cupcake wrappers, they’ve got you covered.  They also offer a gift card option which takes even more work out of your holiday shopping. View their catalogue on-line, or order yourself a hard copy and start your holiday shopping early.

3.) Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods is small Finger Lakes company  located in Geneva, NY.  They produce the finest food grade roasted squash and pumpkin seed oils you will ever find.  This is a farm to table product.  The oils are processed in small batches and are a healthy, delicious alternative to olive oil. The uses for them are endless. The Butternut Squash Seed Oil I used in my recipe has a wonderful, buttery, nutty flavor that really enhances any recipe.  My suggestion – fill all of your foodie friends stockings with these oils, and don’t forget to buy a bottle or two for yourself.  Ordering is made simple through their on-line store, or look for a retailer near you from their website.

4.) Naples Valley Brand Products is a small company that hand-makes delicious products from their kitchen at the Bristol Mountain Winter Resort in Bristol, NY.  They offer jalapeno jams, sweet jams, marinated garlics, gourmet mustards, dipping oils, vinegars, sauces, seasonings, rubs and spices, and stuffed olives. Their products are available to order on-line, and their gift boxes are make a perfect gift choice.  Naples Valley Brand Products offers free shipping on orders over $50.00.  I am proud to say I’ve been buying their mustard since it first hit the shelves.

Hopefully, my suggestions will help make your holiday shopping a little easier.  If you make this bread please post it on your blog and share the link back here under the comments section.  We would love to see it!