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Chocolate-Nutella Dipped Pecan Shortbread Sticks By Ellery Adams

The name sounds complicated, but this is an easy recipe to follow. These cookies are just the sort of treat Mrs. Hubbard would bake for teatime at Storyton Hall.

Imagine that it’s mid-afternoon, and you’d like to take a break and read for a few minutes. Well, nothing goes better with a cozy mystery than a cookie and a cup of tea or coffee. In my mind, this mid-afternoon break food is best when it can be eaten with one hand. That way, you don’t have to put down your book.

These cookies fit the bill. After you bite off the chocolate-Nutella-dipped end, you can dunk the rest of your goodie in your hot beverage. Presto! Your day just got a little cozier.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, cold and cut up into pieces
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (if you’d prefer the nut taste to be milder, use vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup pecan pieces (I put mine in the food processor to get them nice and small)
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Continue reading “Chocolate-Nutella Dipped Pecan Shortbread Sticks By Ellery Adams”

Posted in Cooking, Crafts, Creativity, Home

Baking Shows Unleashed My Inner Cake Boss by Ellery Adams

I love baking shows. There’s something so satisfying about having dinner and then settling down on the sofa to watch professional or amateur chefs battle it out on Chopped, The Great British Bake Off, Zumbo’s Just Desserts, Master Chef, Cupcake Wars, and Worst Cooks in America.

I remember the first time I tried to make one of Mary Berry’s cakes. I’d seen an episode of The Great British Bake Off featuring Mary’s Victoria Sandwich, and after reading countless literary references to the Victoria Sandwich and Victoria Sponge, I was dying to try my hand at one.

I made the cake. It was tasty. When I made it for the second time, I put my own spin on it. I used lemon cake because I thought it would go nicely with the raspberry jam. After that, I used homemade strawberry buttercream instead of jam. I figured that it was my duty as an American to tinker with a traditional British dessert (insert wink).

Next, I focused on Paul Hollywood’s bread. Using his recipes meant learning to translate grams into ounces, the meaning of strong flour, and learning that bicarbonate of soda is baking soda and that caster sugar is granulated sugar.  I began baking bread. It filled the house with such incredible aromas that I thought I’d never stop.

I didn’t exactly stop, but I was sidetracked by another show. This time, it was Nailed It! After my family watched the first episode, my daughter turned to me and said, “Let’s make everything they make.” I thought this was a crazy and wonderful idea.

The two of us started with the pigs in the hot tub cake and continued baking every weekend afterward. We gave away all the cakes and received just as much joy out of sharing the love and the sugar as we did baking together.

Continue reading “Baking Shows Unleashed My Inner Cake Boss by Ellery Adams”

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Not Only Dukes Get To Be Decadent by Madeline Hunter

The heroes of The Decadent Dukes trilogy gave themselves that moniker when they were boys. They did so only partly tongue in cheek. They knew that in their time period criticisms of the aristocracy included that it was decadent —too given to self-indulgence, pleasure and luxury and increasingly irrelevant in the world.

Most of us will never experience the kind of decadence available to Regency dukes. We take our self-indulgence in smaller, less expensive doses. Indulging in a little decadence isn’t a bad thing. It is like taking a mini vacation.

The easiest way to enjoy a decadence retreat is through— food! If you feel naughty while you eat it, you know it is decadent.

If we make it ourselves, the decadence is offset by the effort to some extent. We can feel virtuous for cooking from scratch before we sit down and sigh over rich, delicious food.

Here is my list of foods I consider so over the top rich, that they enter the realm of decadence.

 

  • Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. Don’t want to cook before indulging yourself? Then head to the Cheesecake Factory. Who hasn’t looked at those cakes when you enter and thought OMG, that is soooo decadent looking. Ignore the outrageously high calorie counts while you pick one. Everyone else does.

Continue reading “Not Only Dukes Get To Be Decadent by Madeline Hunter”

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Pie People by Krista Davis

My friend and fellow author, Leslie Budewitz, says people fall into one of two categories. We are people of the pie, or we belong to the clan of the cake.  I found this hilarious, but I have to admit that there may be some truth to it. I grew up with cakes. My mom baked a cake or pastry every Saturday morning when I was growing up. Only rarely did she bake a pie!

That’s actually not too surprising to me because my mom was born in Germany where cake is readily available at every proper café. Pies not so much. According to my research, pies go back ancient Egypt and Rome but it was the British who seized the idea and eventually brought it to America. Germans bake a lot of pastries and their strudel is well known, but pies take a back seat. I’m told that’s changing. Still, it accounts for why I am definitely from the Clan of the Cake. Continue reading “Pie People by Krista Davis”

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Summertime Recipe by Renee Ann Miller

One of my favorite summertime recipes is making a fruit salad in a watermelon basket. I shared this recipe in one of my newsletters last year, and it was a big hit with my subscribers. It’s a cool dessert to serve on a hot day and depending on the size of the watermelon you buy, it can feed a nice size crowd. And the best part—it’s not that difficult to prepare, but it makes a nice showing.

 

When shopping for a watermelon look for one that has one side that’s a bit flat, so it won’t roll and will be steady when set down. Next, you’ll want to figure out where you need to cut it to make the basket shape. In the second picture, you can see I’ve scored the skin of the melon to help guide me. I usually cut it outside on the table on my deck with newspaper underneath it, since it can get messy.

After cutting it, take a melon baller and scoop out the watermelon. Use a big bowl to put the fruit in. When all the fruit is out, I usually take a few minutes to cut out little upside-down triangles to make the basket’s edge, but you don’t really need to do that, I just think it looks fancier. Continue reading “Summertime Recipe by Renee Ann Miller”

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Idaho Potato Pie by Lynn Cahoon

I love quiche, but it’s hard to ignore the call of hash browns for a good Sunday brunch.  One day, I decided to mix the two desires into one dish that not only is great for breakfast, but also stores and reheats well for lunch. Especially if you add a green salad to the lunch bag.

Idaho Potato Pie

Pie Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a pie plate with a pre-made pie crust. (You can make your own here but on most Sunday mornings, I’m looking for ease and speed.)

 

Inside the pie crust, layer the following
2 cups of frozen shredded hash browns
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup of one of the following pre-cooked meats o Ham o Bacon o Sausage

In a bowl mix the following
6 eggs
¼ cup of whole milk
Salt
Pepper Continue reading “Idaho Potato Pie by Lynn Cahoon”

Posted in Cooking, Creativity, Home

The Right to Write by Mandy Mikulencak

I’ve long appreciated Women’s History Month because it gives us the opportunity to honor our foremothers and their words and actions that impact our lives today: Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the suffragettes who ultimately won our right to vote; Margaret Sanger, who championed a woman’s right to birth control; Betty Friedan, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and others who ignited a movement to “take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” Their agenda is still a modern-day agenda: reproductive rights, economic justice, an end violence against women, constitutional equality, an end to racism.

But I’d like to highlight other significant female voices, those that have impacted my working life as an author. Two years ago, I ran across an enlightening article at Bustle.com. The author of the article, Sadie Trombetta, shone a spotlight on thirteen female writers “who have been breaking barriers, changing the rules, and challenging the status quo through their writing.” As I read the stories of their struggles and accomplishments, I became more and more energized.

Despite their global impact, however, women authors are often underrepresented in the publishing industry, bestseller lists, and literary awards. Yet, they continue to teach us and future generations of women writers that our voices are vital.

Trombetta’s article provides us with only a partial list of literary heroines: the Greek poet Sappho, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Edith Wharton (the first female to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for The Age of Innocence), Octavia Butler, Alice Walker (the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for The Color Purple). Continue reading “The Right to Write by Mandy Mikulencak”

Posted in Cooking, Home

Potato Soup Recipe by Lynn Cahoon

 

When I was a kid, my favorite dinner was fresh baked bread and potato soup. It’s still my go to comfort food choice for when I’m feeling down or just needing a taste of home. When my mom was going into her last surgery, the family was gathered at the house and my sisters made potato soup for our shared meal. To me, the soup means home. I’ve adjusted Mom’s recipe, adding spicy sausage and red pepper to the mix to make it more of a meal to appease my husband.

I hope you enjoy.

Chop one onion and mince a clove or two of garlic. Brown this in a large heavy stockpot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Crumble a pound or so of a fresh sausage into the pan. I like the spicy Italian sausage my grocer makes for this. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

Cook until the meat is done but not over cooked and dry. Then set the mixture aside in a colander, draining out the fat from the olive oil as well as the sausage. Continue reading “Potato Soup Recipe by Lynn Cahoon”

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Red Velvet for Valentines, Part II by Donna Everhart

In my family we have a cookie baking tradition. Since I can remember, my mother and I have baked at Christmas time, and this has continued with my daughter, and now my granddaughter too. Four generations were in my kitchen this past holiday season, my granddaughter’s very first time, while for my daughter, my mother and myself, we can count these special times by the decades. There was one year we baked from seven a.m. until eleven p.m., and the next morning when I woke up, my hands ached from kneading so much dough. That was the year we made eight different types of cookies, doubling or tripling recipes, so by the time it was all said and done, we had to have baked hundreds upon hundreds of cookies. We are not that ambitious now, and usually do about three kinds. The dough is made ahead, so all we have to do is roll, drop, or cut. This is much more manageable, and enjoyable time for all considering we now have an eighty-two year old with a cane and a four year old with enough energy for all of us.

By the time Valentine’s Day comes around, the holiday overload of sugar has waned, and if I’ve been careful, my New Year’s resolutions are still intact. Valentine’s Day is about showing our love for those we care about, and what better way to do this than to offer up something homemade to go along with a card? In a previous post, I talked about red velvet cupcakes, and hinted I had a recipe for red velvet cookies. I don’t know what it is about cookies, but they hold such nostalgic feelings for me. I have memories of cookies and milk for an after school snack, and how there was always a filled cookie jar on the kitchen countertop when I was growing up. It wasn’t uncommon for me and my brother to try and sneak one before supper, dodging Mom’s watchful eye. Continue reading “Red Velvet for Valentines, Part II by Donna Everhart”

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The Most Delicious Recipe by Julia Henry

My grandmother was famous for fixing recipes. She’d cut recipes out of the newspaper or a magazine, tape it to a index cards, and make notes on any changes she made. Happily, I have those notes and those recipes. Unhappily, I rarely can recreate the wonderfulness of her baked goods. But I persist.

In 1962 the Pillsbury Bake Off winner was a Chocolate Intrigue Cake.

[https://clickamericana.com/recipes/dessert-recipes/chocolate-intrigue-cake-recipe-1962] My mother and my grandmother both made the cake, and it is my sister’s favorite. I make it for her every year on her birthday. Here’s the Pillsbury recipe:

Chocolate Intrigue Cake recipe (pound cake)

Ingredients
3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup sugar
1/3 pounds (1-1/3 sticks) butter
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup (1/2 can) Hershey chocolate syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
Continue reading “The Most Delicious Recipe by Julia Henry”