Heart Cookies for Valentine’s Day

This is my last post before cupid show’s himself tomorrow.  I have really had fun with Valentine’s Day recipes this year.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the treats and recipes I’ve shared.

Now, for my final treat.  Yes, there is still time for you to whip up a batch of these delicious Valentine Cream Wafer Cookies.  The recipe is straight from Betty Crocker’s Kitchen.  When I saw these I immediately pinned them on one of my Pinterest boards and knew I NEEDED to make them. 

I tweaked the original  recipe ever so slightly by adding 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter.  Other than that, I followed the recipe and instructions to the letter.  *Note – the original recipe say’s it yields about 44 cookies.  I got about 1 1/2 dozen with a slightly bigger cookie cutter.

These cookies are tender, sweet, and delicious.  I’m adding this recipe to my tried and true recipe box. 

Wishing all you romantics out there a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Old-Fashioned Custard Pie with Strawberry Sauce

When Cheryl  at TidyMom announced the Fourth Annual #LovethePie Party I knew I wanted in on the action.  I love pies, I love making pies, and I love pie parties!  And what’s more, I love the idea of winning a Whirlpool Gold ® 6.2 cu. ft. Capacity Induction Range or a very cool prize package from Paul Haedrich, author of PIE and Dean of The Pie Academy.

And speaking of ranges, let me tell you a little story.  Our oven recently decided to stop working.  Not very convenient when you plan on entering a pie baking contest.

Fortunately, we have a spare oven in our basement so I’m not completely out of commission, but trekking up and down the basement steps to use the oven has been quite an adventure.  Plus, who wants to hang out in a basement that I refer to as my husband’s man cave?  Um… no thank you!

So, what have I learned from not having my faithful oven at my fingertips?

1.) I have learned I am a visual baker.  I need to see what I’m baking.  Even with the timer set, it’s just not enough.  I want to see my custard pie firming up and my homemade rolls turning golden brown.

2.) Besides sight, smell is just as equally important to me.  I can tell by the smell of the pie crust baking, or the rolls browning, if they are close to being done.  It  a knack I’ve picked up from baking for so many years, but it’s not as easy to do when the oven is a one floor away from you.

3.)  I have also learned that there are heat differences between ovens.  My ovens temperature varies slightly from the one downstairs.  What bakes well in one oven on the top rack, doesn’t necessarily fair so well in the other oven on the top rack.

Even with all of these new challenges I proceeded to make one of my favorite types of pies for the pie party – CUSTARD.  Try carrying one of these pies down a flight of  steps with the custard filling sloshing around.  No, on second thought, please don’t!

Custard pies are hands down my most favorite.  And topped with  strawberry  – oh dear me…  I have been experimenting with custard fillings and I think this recipe wins hands down.

For this pie you will need one 9” unbaked pie crust.  Either make your own favorite pie crust (like I did), or buy an already prepared crust.

Old-Fashioned Custard Pie Filling

4 eggs

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup of skim milk

12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, add skim and evaporated milk.   Heat until scalded, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add eggs; beat with electric mixer.  Add sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla; mix thoroughly.  Add scalded milk, and beat again until all ingredients are well blended.  Pour into pie crust and cover crust with pie baking ring.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a table knife off to the side –  away from the middle of the pie.  If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done.  The center of the pie will look a little soft, but be careful not to over cook it.  Baking a custard pie for too long may make the custard watery.  Serve warm or cold.  Store in the refrigerator.

Top your pie off with strawberry sauce.  This sauce is made by crushing fresh or frozen berries, and adding sugar to taste.

What’s your favorite pie, and who makes it?

Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Whirlpool and enter to win a new Whirlpool Range too!

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Rustic Oat Bread

Rustic Oat Bread

It’s that time of the year here in the Northeast. Our ovens become our winter friends.  They heat our kitchens,  fill our homes with wonderful aromas, and help us produce delicious comfort foods that warm our souls.

I love making homemade bread, and a chilly day with snow in the air gives me just the reason to do it.

What could be better than a warm slice of bread without any preservatives, and topped with fresh butter?  Hmmm… maybe a piece of toast  slathered with homemade strawberry jam that was made with plump berries from Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Rustic Oat Bread

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. water

2 tbsp. butternut squash seed oil

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 c. oatmeal, plus extra for topping

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

2 tbsp. honey

In a small saucepan, add milk, water, oil, and brown sugar.  Bring to boil; stirring constantly.  Once boiling, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour milk mixture over oatmeal; mix ingredients.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Add yeast and flour; mix completely.  On lightly floured surface knead dough by hand for approximately 7 minutes.   Place in a large bowl greased lightly with squash seed oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Cut in half,  briefly knead each half into a ball.  Place each ball a distance apart from each other on a floured cookie.  Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each ball of dough with honey, and sprinkle lightly with oatmeal.  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to wire baking rack to cool.

*Baker’s note – I made this hearty bread with Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods Butternut Squash Seed Oil that’s produced in Geneva, NY. I like using squash seed oil because it gives food a deliciously light nutty flavor.  If you don’t have squash seed oil you can always substitute it with olive oil.

Homemade Rustic Oat Bread & Strawberry Jam

Here is a question for you local foodies.  Will Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods  and Silver Queen Farm be nominated for a Finger Lakes Foodie award this year?

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Through Thick and Thin

Last month at the vintage camper rally we met a very nice lady who was sharing a plate of her homemade molasses cookies. These were one of the best molasses cookies I’ve ever had.  And without hesitation I asked her if she’d  share her recipe.  Lucky for me she did!

I made a batch of cookies using her recipe and this is how they turned out. Thick and soft, more cake like, and mildly molasses flavored – delish.

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My cookie recipe (cookies pictured below) is considerably different than hers.   Mine are  semi-soft, chewy, and have a slightly stronger molasses flavor – delish.

There are a couple obvious differences between her recipe and mine.  One is the amount of flour used.  My recipe calls for two cups of flour and hers calls for seven cups.  Her recipe required refrigerating the dough, and mine does not.  I generally get about 2.5 dozen cookies from my batch.  Her recipe yielded dozens of cookies.  So many, that I stopped counting.  Might I add, that my freezer is happily full of cookies now.

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How’s a girl to choose between the two great recipes like these? Both cookies have great qualities.  I doubt I could pass up either cookie in an independent taste test…  I can tell there is going to be trouble on the horizon when it’s time to make molasses cookies in this house again.

October’s Cookie of the Month

Last month I started something new here at TJOC.  I decided to make a new cookie each month from September thru December.  I’m hoping that these new cookie recipes will inspire you to bake, and share them over the holidays.

So here is the unveiling of this month’s cookie…

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If you’re a shortbread cookie fan than you are so much in luck.  This recipe is probably one of the simplest you’re going to find.  No eggs involved either.  I chose orange sprinkles because Halloween is this month, but  you can use any color of sprinkles that you want.  Red and/or green sprinkles look great on Christmas cookie trays.

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Shortbread Sprinkles

1 c. butter, room temperature

3/4 c. powder sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 dash of salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sprinkles for batter, and more for sprinkling on top of cookies

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in flour and mix completely.  Fold in sprinkles.

Put dough into a pastry bag, or an Easy Accent Decorator from Pampered Chef which is what I used, and pipe dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Generously sprinkle more sprinkles on top of the cookies prior to baking.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are firm.  Remove  from oven and cool on cookie sheet.

Makes about 3 dozen (2 1/2” in diameter) cookies.

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These cookie  are delicious and fancy looking.  Who would have ever guessed they are this easy to make?

Did you miss September’s Cookie of the Month?  CLICK HERE!

Happy Baking!

Baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes

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Every time that I looked in my cupboard this week I’d see a can of pumpkin staring me down.  I’d set it aside, and somehow it would make it’s way front and center again. 

I took this as a sign.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to use the pumpkin.  I just couldn’t decide what to make with it.  Pumpkin bars, cake, cookies, cheesecake, pie; they all seemed like good choices to me. 

And then it hit me.  Doughnut holes – baked, not fried!  I  found a great recipe at two peas & their pod.  And best of all, their pictures convinced me that these were the doughnut holes I’ve been waiting for all my life.  Ah… Inspiration!

Have you ever had a treat that was just to tempting to keep sitting around?  Well, I’ve lost count on how many of these I’ve eaten since I made them, and they definitely  fall into that “just too tempting” category.  I think once you try these you will agree that there  isn’t any reason to ever fry a doughnut again.  

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I tweaked two peas recipe just a little and here is my adapted version.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes

1 large egg

1/3 c. olive oil

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

3/4 c. canned pumpkin

1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. milk

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Cinnamon & sugar mixture

In large bowl, add egg, oil, sugars, and pumpkin; mix thoroughly.  Mix in pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.  Add flour and milk; mix until all ingredients are completely blended.

I used my babycakes maker to make my doughnuts.  If you don’t have a babycakes maker then check out two peas and their pod for an alternate way of baking them.

When the doughnut holes are still hot, roll them in the prepared cinnamon & sugar mixture and let them cool before devouring…

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These might be best stored in a brown paper bag so the cinnamon and sugar-coating doesn’t disappear.  I put mine in an airtight container overnight which made them super moist, but they had to be re-coated in the morning.

I’m so glad it’s pumpkin season!  How about you?

What is your favorite doughnut hole flavor?  Looking for another great baked doughnut hole recipe?  Click here!

Farm Country Peach Pie

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Dig out your most treasured double pie crust recipe because you’re going to need it.  And don’t forget to pick up some farm fresh peaches at your local produce stand or farmers market.

This pie filling is sweet, but not overly so.  And I dare say you won’t get anymore farm country fresh than you will with this pie recipe.

This recipe makes one 8” pie but I got overly creative and made four mini’s.

Farm County Peach Pie Recipe

Prepared double pie crust pastry

3 extra large peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 c. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. cold margarine or butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

In a large bowl, add sliced peaches, lemon juice, sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Carefully fold all ingredients together. 

Spoon peach filling into bottom half of prepared pie crust.  Slice margarine or butter into small pieces and place on top of pie filling.  Cover filling with top pie crust.  Using a sharp knife slice vents into top pie crust. Place thin pieces of aluminum foil around the pie crust to prevent over-browning.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees and then lower temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for additional 35-40 minutes until pie filling bubbles out through vents and peaches are tender.  *Remove aluminum foil about 10 minutes before pie is done so edges can brown lightly.

Serve  warm with a dollop of homemade whipped cream or a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. 

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Have you made a peach pie this season?