Monday, December 31, 2012

maple chai

I cannot lie.  There is so much build-up and excitement with the coming of the holidays, I get a little down once they pass.  I try to delight in the peace that follows.  Our culture is really not good at that, and neither am I.  So, I try to relish in the thought of building fires during these colder weeks, drinking hot _________ (fill in the blank; I love it all!), and loving on my boys... not to mention soaking in every word of new cookbooks and the January and February magazine editions I receive.  In fact, as I was setting up the photo for this newest recipe, I thought it became a perfect picture of what I will be doing in my spare time until Spring arrives.

I discovered Chai years ago when a friend of mine brought some back from DC.  She had gone to visit her family and returned with the gift.  It was love at first sip.  I had never seen it around here, nor heard of it. Now, it can be found anywhere.

But I am not the only Chai lover in the family.  John is a big-time convert.  If we find a moment to stop by a Starbucks, it's a Chai Tea Latte for him every time.  That might change now that we can whip up a great rendition here... one he says is just as good.  And I probably don't have to tell you, it is WAY cheaper!

Please take 10 minutes and try this out.  A wonderful mixture of spices... cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves... You could have this steaming in no time and enjoying the peaceful moments that our society rarely appreciates.  Pull your loved ones close and breathe.  You'll be so glad you did.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Maple Chai - 
makes 2 mug-sized servings or 4 teacups
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 chai tea bags (I love Celestial Seasonings)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Grated fresh nutmeg, optional
~ In small saucepan, heat milk to just boiling.
~ Add tea bags and steep 10 minutes.
~ Stir in maple syrup.
~ Grate nutmeg over poured drink.

Slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

blackberry butter

It is crazy to me how fast time flies.  Wasn't I just blogging yesterday about the blackberry discovery we made on our summer trip to Gatlinburg?  Now, it's nearly six months later, and we're far from summer vacationing.

I had about a half gallon of blackberries left from our trip, hanging out in the deep freezer.  While trying to think about options for Christmas goodie bags, I ran all kinds of ideas through my head of how to use up the berries.  The Amish White Bread was already a definite for the bags, so it didn't take me too long to determine that a good butter would make a great companion.

Blackberry Butter was born.

For the bags, I packaged them in logs, wrapped in parchment paper, twisted and twined on the ends.  I also gave them to others in canning jars.  Either way, I was pleased with the presentation and equally satisfied with the flavor.  I'm looking forward to experimenting with some other butter ideas.  I already love the stuff in its truest form...  why not consider other ways to make it interesting and fun?

Happy whipping!

Blackberry Butter - makes one pound of butter
  • 1 pound salted butter, softened
  • 1/8 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
~ Whip together butter and honey until fluffy.
~ Add in berries and mix in short bursts until desired look is achieved.  I did not want mine
   to be completely emulsified, so I "broke" up the berries slightly with just a few turns of 
   the paddle attachment.
~ If storing in jars, scoop into jar and wipe mouth clean.  Cap and refrigerate.
~ If storing in logs, place a piece of plastic wrap over a piece of aluminum foil the same size.  
~ Scoop out butter along length of wrap/foil, folding wrap over butter and rolling into 
   consistent-sized cylinder.  Roll up foil around log and twist ends.  Refrigerate or freeze.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

ma's springerles - a lazy daisy favorite

I spent the first third of my life living in a duplex with my parents and grandparents.  It was the neatest thing to be able to run upstairs to "Ma and Popie's" whenever I fancied.  I have all kinds of wonderful memories, as many grandchildren do of their grandparents, but some of the best center around this time of year and all that played a part of the holidays growing up on Herndon Drive.

I couldn't imagine sharing anything but this recipe with you on Christmas day.  The first moment I'd smell Springerles baking, starting as far back as I can remember, to me, that was the official beginning of Christmas. Ma would work tirelessly for days on end, baking dozens and dozens of the German embossed cookies to pass out to friends, family, neighbors, you name it.  We had an extra oven in our basement, so the aroma would immediately make it's way up to me... just delightful.

These cookies are extremely unique, delicate, temperamental, but totally worth it.  With a slight tinge of licorice, the dough - even before baking - is hard to resist.

The star of the show is the rolling pin.  Isn't she a beaut?

I would love to perfect these one day.  Mine will never be as light, nor as beautiful, as Ma's.  But she has officially passed down the coveted rolling pin to me.  Although I have my work cut out for me, I feel completely honored to carry on the tradition.

I have had such a wonderful time "spending time" with you over the last few months.  I greatly appreciate your encouraging thoughts and sweet comments regarding all things Lazy Daisy.  I look forward to continuing to bless others with you through the gift of food... a way to so many's heart, and a way to comfort when words don't always suffice.  May God continue to richly bless you and yours as 2012 comes to a close; prayers for love and light in 2013.

Come to the feast (and don't forget to invite others),

Springerles - 
makes 4-5 dozen of traditional-sized cookies
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of anise (can substitute fruit flavored oils; if you do, use 3 teaspoons)
  • about 7 cups all-purpose flour, or 2 pound box cake flour
  • more powdered sugar as needed
~ Dissolve baking powder in milk and set aside. 
~ Beat eggs in mixer (stand mixer is easiest) until thick and lemon-colored, about 20
~ Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter. 
~ Add the baking powder and milk, salt, and preferred flavoring (I always use anise).  
~ Gradually beat in flour, one cup at a time.  If you have a dough hook, that works 
    wonderfully here.  If not, mix in as much as you can with the beaters and stir in the rest 
    by hand until you form a stiff dough.
~ Ma taught me to tape down paper on a large surface in which to work with the dough.  I 
    just cut open paper grocery bags and affix to our island.  She also suggests having 
    powdered sugar handy to sprinkle on the rolling surface and the pin, as well as the
    dough, as needed, so it doesn't stick.  Using the sugar works so much better, and is much 
    tastier, than flour.

~ Divide dough into two sections and cover the section you're not using with plastic wrap.  
~ Working quickly, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch (maybe a bit more) with flat rolling 
~ Using Springerle pin, press and roll through the end of the flattened dough, doing your 
    best to apply consistent pressure to ensure fully embossed imprints.  If you look closely 
    at the picture below, you'll notice I worked a little too slow and the surface dried slightly, 
    causing some wrinkling.  If this happens, turn a blind eye (which I've done my fair share 
    of times) or pick up the dough, need slightly, and start over.

Below is the way the roll should look.

~ As each section is rolled out, use a pastry wheel or bench scraper to cut apart, following 
    the lines.

~ Allow cut cookies to dry a couple of hours (or more).  This will help the pictures stay put 
   when baking.
~ Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake between 255 and 325 degrees 
   for as long as they take to turn slightly golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Our oven worked 
   best at 325 degrees for 12 minutes this last batch.  Humidity and such plays a roll, so my 
   next round may require a different time.  I highly suggest you try baking one at a time 
   until you find the right temperature and length of time that works.

~ Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and 
    improve with age. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

gingerbread christmas trees

If you are looking for a cookie to make today... one that will permeate the house with all things Christmas, one that will allow tiny hands to easily roll out and cut shapes, one that will be a hands-down success, you have found the perfect recipe!

Last year, I was given an issue of Food Network Magazine, and it highlighted gingerbread men with some of the cutest ideas for decorating them.  I would love to think that next year I might tackle a couple of the designs (they're pretty involved), but this year I kept them simple to add to my Rise 'n Shine goodie bags.  I have always, always loved the look of brown paper, twine, red and green yarns and felts, especially at Christmastime.  These rich, dark brown cookies were a perfect accompaniment.

I do believe the most exciting part of this endeavor was the Royal Icing.  I've tried it before, and it's gone just okay... but this time, it worked beautifully.  I'm really pumped now to try different sugar cookie designs using this icing.  I'm hoping the batch wasn't just a fluke and it will be just as easy next time around.

Tomorrow, I plan to share with you my absolute favorite cookie for the holiday season.  It dates all the way back to the 1600's...  so cool, unique, and extremely delicious!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Gingerbread Christmas Trees - 
makes approximately 10 large trees

For the cookies
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp melted shortening
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
~ Sift flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in a bowl.  
~ In another bowl, mix butter and shortening along with the brown sugar and molasses.
~ Beat in egg with mixer.
~ Beat in the flour mixture in two additions.
~ Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to a 1/2 inch thick disc.  Chill 2 hours.
~ Preheat the oven to 350 F.
~ On floured surface, roll out each disc to 1/4 inch thick, dusting with flour, if needed.  
~ Cut gingerbread in desired shapes and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. 
    Brush off excess flour.
~ Chill 15 minutes.
~ Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack 
   and cool.

For the Icing
  • 2 tbsp meringue powder
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
~ Sift meringue powder and sugar in a large bowl.  
~ Beat in the water with a mixer until glossy with soft peaks.
~ Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag or icing bag.  Fit with desired tip or snip off 
    corner of plastic bag tip and pipe.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

rise n' shine christmas bags

"There's a light in your eyes."

That's what John said the night I was making up the items to fill my Christmas goodie bags this year.  Our kitchen and dining room was like what I would imagine Santa's might be... Christmas music playing, little fingers coming in to sneak a bite here and there, twine and yarn strung all over the place...

I could do this for a living.  Don't know that anything would sell, but my-oh-my, would I have fun!

I thought I'd share with you what I included in the Rise 'n Shine Christmas bag:

Mini loaf of Amish White Bread

Mini log of Blackberry Butter

Gingerbread Christmas Tree cookie

I topped it all off with a small bag of Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  Two of the recipes were previous posts, and you can link to them from above.  The other two I'll post soon.  In fact, make sure you have flour, salt, brown sugar, molasses, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, butter, shortening and eggs on hand.  We'll bake up the gingerbread tomorrow - a perfect Christmas Eve treat!

I hope you're enjoying time with family and friends.  Can't wait to share more with you in the days ahead...

Love to all!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

SOUPer saturdays - ham and cheese chowder

I'm not sure there are any words I can gather today in light of the tragedy that's taken place in Connecticut. I've struggled all day with going about my list of "to-dos," knowing so many are in unimaginable pain.  All I find I want to do is spend these moments in our home, with my sweet boys and husband, and thank God for every minute He blesses me.  So many around us need comfort... hope...  Thank you, Jesus, for always, always providing it, even though we sometimes cannot find ways to understand.

I hope you will find time to comfort and be comforted this weekend.  This recipe can get you off to a great start.  Add in your loved ones, and all is complete.

Ham and Cheese Chowder - makes 10-12 servings
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 medium potatoes, pared and diced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, pared and sliced
  • 1 1/4 cups onions, diced
  • 2 tsp. salt (plus more to taste, if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • 4 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
  • 2 cups ham, cooked and cubed
  • pepper sauce to taste (optional)
  • rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)
~ Add potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, and salt and pepper to boiling water.  Cover and 
   simmer 10 minute or until tender.
~ Melt butter in large saucepan or pot; blend in flour.  
~ Gradually stir in milk and cook over medium heat until mixture boils.  Stir constantly!
~ Add cheese and stir until melted.  
~ Add undrained vegetables and ham, heating thoroughly, then add pepper sauce.

Recipe slightly adapted from Gooseberry Patch, Coming Home for Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

SOUPer saturdays - italian sausage soup

If you are distressed over the 70 degree days in December, raise your hand.

Please tell me what in the world this is about.  If I wanted to decorate for Christmas in my running shorts, I would have made plans to set up my life and family in Florida.  But I chose here because I love the changing seasons and the hope of snow, and at the very least, cold weather during tree-trimming season...

Ugh.  I'm not a weather fan right now. at. all.

But despite my woes, I am still cooking as though it's the holiday season, and boy do I have a great one for you this time.  I followed the directions exactly, producing a rich and perfectly-seasoned soup.  I found the mild sausage worked well, still yielding plenty of spice with the hot pepper sauce called for. When leftovers last for three days, drawing "yums" from John every time he warms up another bowl, I figure it's worth sharing.  

I am excited to see our forecast is showing a major drop in temps come Tuesday, officially two weeks before the "big day!"  With chaotic times ahead, full of decorating, mailing, shopping and wrapping, simmer up a pot of this to keep handy.  It's a perfect go-to!

Italian Sausage Soup - makes 15 servings
  • 2 lbs mild or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes
  • 6 14 oz cans beef broth (I used almost 2 boxes of all-natural beef broth)
  • 1 1/2 c red cooking wine, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 3 tbsp. parsley
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut length-wise and sliced
  • 3 cups pasta shells (I used bow-ties, because I already had some on hand)
~ In a large pot, cook sausage for about 15 minutes.  If in casings, pierce with fork to release 
   fat, drain, and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Our store actually had the sausage already 
   ground, so there was no need to do this.  I just cooked as I would ground beef.
~ Add all ingredients except zucchini and pasta.  Cook for 30-45 minutes.
~ Add zucchini and cook until tender.  
~ Add pasta and cook until tender.
~ Salt and pepper to taste.

Tips and Tricks:
  • I made this through the "adding zucchini" step and took it off the stove.  I added the pasta shells immediately, let the pot cool off the heat, and refrigerated the soup until the next day when needed.  The shells were softened perfectly without needing to cook.  I might suggest this method if you're making ahead, just so they don't get too soft.

Recipe slightly adapted from Gooseberry Patch, Coming Home for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

caramel apple granola

It's December and life is officially crazy, but the craziness is for wonderful reasons, really.  There is something about a little Harry Conick, Jr. holiday music and Charlie Brown Christmas lights that makes the craziness easier to handle.

I totally love Christmas.

Cooking during this season is nothing short of delightful to me.  At the very same time, it's maddening to not have enough time to try the vast number of recipes that grace the covers of magazines, blog posts, and treasured cookbooks collected over the years.  I always promise myself to start the "taste-testing" earlier in the year, but like so many plans made... well... you know.

This recipe produces a wonderful result... the tastiest granola I think I've ever had.  Considering the flavor combo, one would think it should have been posted in the heart of Fall, but I chose to share it now because I think it would make a perfect homemade gift for the holidays.  I am still trying to nail down how to package it, and the accompanying items, but it's definitely going in the basket of goodies.

Please note that when you pour the homemade caramel (I know... delicious!) over the granola, work fast.  I did splash a tad of water into the bowl just after adding to make the stirring a little easier and ensure full coverage.

I hope to be back sooner than later.  I'm working to fit it all in.  I'm also working to remember that during the hectic season, craziness or not, each day is one the Lord has made... rejoice with me!

Caramel Apple Granola - 
makes approximately 4 cups
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup dried apples, cut into small pieces and lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 3 tbsp. butter
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
~ In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, spices, salt, and dried apples. 
    Set aside.
~ In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. 
~ Scrape down sides of pan and let sugar boil over medium high heat, without stirring, 
    until sugar reaches a golden amber color If the sugar becomes too dark, it may turn the 
    caramel bitter. 
~ Remove from heat and immediately add the butter, stirring until melted and smooth.
~ Pour the caramel over the oat mixture and quickly stir to coat evenly (this is where I  
    added the water). 
~ Spread granola evenly onto a baking pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, stirring 
    occasionally, until the granola is golden in color (if the caramel begins to darken too 
    quickly, remove the granola from the oven to prevent further darkening). 
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving or storing.

Recipe from The Pastry Affair.