Sunday, February 26, 2017

A weekend of baking...

It was a cold weekend.  Nothing else to do but bake.  I did plenty of it.  I actually made the biscotti last weekend.  Some friends came over for coffee and what goes better with coffee then biscotti?
 Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
2 t. baking powder
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 cut semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried cranberries
Mix ingredients together, fold in chips and cranberries.  Flatten into two cakes  and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Use a pizza cutter to cut into slices and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Melt white chocolate chips and coat the bottom of the biscotti when cooled.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
1/2 c. pumpkin pie canned 
1 egg
4 T butter
2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. baking powder
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
1 c. chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together, fold in chips and flatten into two cakes.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Use pizza cutter to cut into slices and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.  Melt semi-sweet chocolate and coat bottom of the biscotti when cooled.

The next baking project was a variance of the skillet bread a few weeks ago.
Olive Rosemary Skillet Bread
 3 c. flour
2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water 
1/2 c.  olives, chopped coarsely
1 sprig of dried rosemary 
Sea salt flakes

Mix bread and knead in olives and rosemary.   Let rise 3 hours. Grease a skillet with olive oil, top the bread with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt.  Cut a cross in the top.  Let rise another hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  My recipe deviates from the original, but I promise it rocks.  The last recipe was a tad bland, but this one is delicious.

Last, but not least,  chocolate cherry cheesecake.  I cheated and used a pre-made chocolate crust.
Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
2 pkg. cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. International Delight Sweet Cream Creamer
2 eggs
1 c. chopped cherries
First, beat cream cheese, then beat in rest of ingredients.  Fold in the cherries.  Pour into pre-made crust.  Put the crust into a cake pan and fill the cake pan with water.  (It is called a water bath.)  Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.  Take out and cool over night.  The next morning melt 3/4 c. of chocolate chips with 1/4 c. cream.  Pour over the top of cheesecake and top with leftover cherries.  Delicious and very bad for you.  That's ok, I needed some fat to help me through this long winter:)

That is it for my weekend adventures.  Baking and eating, eating and baking.  What is the best thing you baked this week? 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February Thaw...

We have seen the 60's and 70's the last couple of days.  It isn't helping my desire to garden.  I have managed to keep busy.  I am currently working on the backyard bird count.  These 8 crows and 1 magpie raised a racket to make sure they were included in the count.
 I'm always looking for projects and I have seen many beneficial bug bungalows.  I have wanted to make one and yesterday while cleaning the beds I had an epiphany the garden has everything I needed to make one.  The stems of the sunflowers, daylilies, and delphiniums are all hollow.  Then in the garage were a couple of hollow birch trunks that I was making into birdhouses.  I decided to repurpose one into a bug house holder.    Then I found an old stick that I had covered in bedsprings, stuck the beneficial bug bungalow on top, then poked it in the snow for a photoshoot.  It needs some tweaking and maybe a stronger stick.  I am pretty pleased with my creation.  I will keep close tabs on it and see if it is just decoration or if it will actually provide refuge for some bugs or butterflies.  

 Keeping with my hygge traditions I made some pumpkin pie white chocolate and drank it in my Danish cup.

Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
dash of cloves
dash of ginger
dash of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. white chocolate chips

Gently whisk on low heat until the white chocolate chips melt. 

 My husband and I went shed hunting on the prairie property.  Our neighbor had extensive beaver damage.  Funny thing is we never saw where their dam was.  As you can see from their attempts at the giant cottonwood below, they have grandiose plans. 

 We had some results from our search.  The large jar is very interesting as it has thumb divots around the top.  The little half pint bottle will make an excellent vase.  
 It is actually melting up on the mountain also.  I finally found my little hedgehog.  He got covered by the snow, but came out of hibernation.  He is now safely on the porch.  I finally got around to wrapping my roses.  You may think it is too late, but actually winter doesn't kill them.  It is the freezing and thawing in the spring.  I put fencing around them and will stuff them with pine boughs.
 While I was out piddling around my husband has been spending his weekends completing the room above our barn.  It is looking pretty good.  I am very proud of his progress.

He has pretty much done everything on his own.  Once and a while I hold things, but that is about it.  I can't wait to show you the finished product.  It will be fabulous.

Well that is all I have.  Quite a bit actually.  It is amazing how much energy a person has when the weather is nice.  It is supposed to snow on Wednesday, so it will be back to the grind.  That doesn't mean we didn't enjoy the break.  

What is the weather where you are?  Have you been able to see your garden, much less putter around in it?  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Skillet bread and snowshoes...

For as much as I got done last weekend, this one was quite unproductive.  I did go snowshoeing, hiking, and made some easy no knead skillet bread.  

My trusty side kick was super excited to get out and enjoy the 40 degree weather.  I snowshoed on Saturday and Sunday so much had melted that I just walked.  It was great to stretch my legs.  The sun was sure shining. 

My husband grilled some chicken on Saturday and I thought this recipe looked interesting and was pretty quick to make.  I took a photo of the bread in the skillet, but the steam fogged up the camera.
This bread was super easy to make, tasted great, and convenient when you don't have all day to make bread.

Easy No Knead Skillet Bread
1 pkg yeast
2 c. warm water
1/2 Tbs. salt
4 1/3 c. flour
Add the yeast to water and let sit 5 min.  Slowly incorporate the flour 1 cup at a time.  Also adding the salt.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.  Coat the inside of a cast iron skillet with olive oil.  Slowly move the bread into the skillet without punching it down. Carefully shape it into a disk.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.  Coat with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt.  Cut an X in the top and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

That was it.  I had plans, but just didn't get it done.  Still, I feel much better after all of that fresh air.  I hope the weather was as pleasant where you are.  Were you able to get out?