Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Candy Apple Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are wonderful shortbread cookies with a dab of jam or jelly for a little flavor delight.  And they can be modified quite easily to give you whatever flavor you would like.

The easiest way to get the flavor you would like is simply to use that kind of jam.  But what if you can't find the right kind of jam?  Then you might want to add something to the cookie itself.  Maybe you'd like chocolate raspberry thumbprint cookies - add cocoa to the shortbread cookie dough and use raspberry jam.  Or try something really creative - savory thumbprint cookies... cut back on the sugar in the dough, add a bit of extra butter and fill with cheese or perhaps a bit of habanero peach ketchup!

I took a basic shortbread recipe and modified it so that I would have a great vehicle for my Apple Cinnamon Jelly.  Give these a try - I think you'll like them!

Candy Apple Thumbprint Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • Apple Cinnamon Jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour,  baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add vanilla, grated apple and walnuts and mix on low to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. If using nuts, dip the balls into the egg whites then roll them into the nuts until covered. Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Press down with your thumb to make a small well in the center of the cookie. Do not press too hard or the cookie will fall apart. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jelly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm, and slightly browned at the edges.

Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Buttery shortbread cookies, with moist apples and candy cinnamon topping.  They remind me of a candy apple in a cookie.  One of these a day might be just what the doctor ordered!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cookie Baking with zentMRS

I love cookies.  (Well, who doesn't really.)   We're getting close to time for holiday cookies and I just can't wait to share mine with you all.

Cookies are one of the easiest and quickest things to bake.  Most cookies are made from the same basic ingredients. The dry ingredients consist of all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. The sweetness comes from granulated and/or brown sugar. The fat is either softened butter or margarine and sometimes shortening. Eggs and vanilla extract are also used.  And then flavoring.  Mix, shape and bake.

A lot of cookies are very simple to make - these Sour Cream Drop cookies are one of my favorite childhood treats and take no time at all to make.  Mix, drop onto baking sheet, bake and eat!

Melting Moments are only a bit more complicated - these are mixed and then rolled into balls before baking. My mom's favorite Christmas Cookie!

Those are both similarly flavored - but if you wanted chocolate you might try Brownie Drops.  Also easy to make in a snap and full of chocolaty goodness!

And of course you can make more complicated varieties like these Candy Cane Cookies:

Or these Rocky Road Cookies:

Over the next few months I will share with you some of my favorite cookie recipes and my best tips for baking, storing and packaging your cookies.  We'll get prepared to delight our friends and family with wonderful holiday treats together!

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Habaneros. Not Just for Salsa Anymore.

I may have mentioned before that I love bread.  Bread of all types.  My very favorite is Italian Bread.

We had some jalapeno sourdough bread at my mother-in-law's the other night and that got me thinking that I could adapt my Italian Bread Recipe to make something along those lines.... and I came up with Habanero Honey Bread.

Habanero Honey Bread
  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup habanero honey
  • 2 teaspoons dough conditioner (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  1. Place all ingredients in bread pan in the order listed (or as per the directions for your bread machine.)  Select Medium Crust setting, the French Bread cycle and press Start.
  2. Observe the dough as it kneads.  After 5 to 10 minutes, if it appears dry and stiff or if your machine sounds as if it's straining to knead the dough, add more liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a smooth, soft, pliable ball that is slightly tacky to the touch.
  3. After the baking cycle ends, remove the bread from pan, place on cake rack and allow to cool 1 hour before slicing.

All the lightness and lovely texture of Italian Bread with a bit of a sweet kick.

We loved the flavor of this bread a lot!  It's not going to last 36 hours.  Maybe not even 24!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Jelly

Looking for something different to do with the apple juice you have left from your apple picking expedition?

Try making some Apple Cinnamon Jelly for your breakfast toast!

Apple Cinnamon Jelly


  • 1 qt. apple juice
  • 1 3/4 oz. pkg. powdered fruit pectin
  • 5 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. red cinnamon candies

Combine juice, food coloring and pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a full boil. Add sugar and cinnamon candies. Stir until dissolved. Return to full boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Pour apple cinnamon mixture into hot sterilized jars.  Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

This is an unusual jelly with a wonderful flavor... and I've got some great things in mind for it.  Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Shortcake

Are you craving the flavors of autumn, but not entirely ready to give up summer?  Why not try this combination of apple pie and strawberry shortcake?!

This is a great way to use up the Maple Biscuit Bites you have left over from breakfast.  Or, if you are making a batch just for this dessert, freeze the unused half for the next time you need a quick dessert.

Apple Cinnamon Shortcake


  • 1/2 recipe Maple Biscuit Bites
  • 6 Apples, quartered with the core removed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • whipped cream for topping


Place the apples in a saucepan with the brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup water.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to soften and add the white wine.  Continue to cool until the wine has mostly cooked down.  Remove from the heat and gently mash the apples with a spoon until they are generally in bite-sized pieces.

In each of six bowls, place several pieces of Maple Biscuit Bites.

Evenly divide the apple mixture between the bowls.  Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Delicious - tastes like fall and summer ran into each other!  Don't tell anyone how easy it is to make though.  That can be our secret.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Garden Party - Taking Pictures with Light

We've got a decent start on our fall garden - broccoli, carrots and peas!

And our ghost peppers keep amazing us - you can see 8 on this part of this plant alone!  That's a lot of hot!

I've been enjoying documenting my garden's growth in pictures.  The Mr thought, after seeing a lot of dark and/or not-so-clear pictures, that I should get some better equipment.

We've got a digital SLR (Canon XTi) and some decent lenses.  But because I take pictures generally either late evening or early morning, I had taken to using my phone.  Which is not as good.

He bought me a light box.  This has been fantastic for shooting my harvests.  You see, one of the most important things you need for taking pictures is light.  This allows you to have two separate light sources, and the box makes the light soft and diffuse.  Also - not very expensive.

Getting close to plants can make the photos so much better.  I've wanted a macro lens (which would allow me to be very very close indeed) but macro lenses are very expensive.  But - The Mr found an alternative solution.  Macro filters - basically a magnifying glass that fits onto your regular lens, letting you get a lot closer to your subject.  And these?  Very inexpensive - about $11.

Another fantastic gift was this flash cable.  It allows me to take the external flash that I have for my camera off of my camera and move it to the side so that the flash is not quite so "in your face".  Also not expensive - in the $10 range.

For a bit of a comparison, the first shot here is in the light box, but no flash and no macro filter.  The second has a macro filter and the flash, which is on a tripod to the side of the shot.

I've been having a lot of fun with my new toys, and am finding that there is a lot you can do with not too much of an investment but a bit of creativity!

Not sure what the next week will bring.  You will have to check back next week to see - in the meantime, check out An Oregon Cottage for her weekly Garden Party.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Harvest Monday: September 24, 2012

Here's a sample of what came out of the garden this week.

We had tomatoes.

And strawberries.

And a variety of hot peppers.

Our very first ghost pepper gave itself to us.  Before it was ready I think,  Not sure about the half brown-half green peppers, but both the ghost and cayenne peppers had a few issues with that.  Possibly the heat?

Another hot week here.  About 100 again today.  My fall seedlings are doing surprisingly well, given the heat.  And  most of the rest of the garden is still thriving - can't ask for more than that at the end of September!

Total Harvest for the Week: 5 pounds, 9.7 ounces
Total Harvest for the Year: 66 pounds, 4.6 ounces

 Linked up with Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday... hop on over and see what else is being picked this week.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's For Breakfast? Maple Biscuit Bites!

Looking for something quick and tasty for breakfast?  This comes together in about 10 minutes, with another 20 to cook.  And it is wonderfully tasty!

Maple Biscuit Bites


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in 3/4 cup cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk and maple syrup all at once. Using a fork, stir just until dough forms a ball.

2. Drop by spoonfuls into the baking pan in one layer.  In a small bowl combine butter, sugars and pumpkin pie spice. Melt the butter and sugar-spice mixture (30 seconds in the microwave) and pour over the layer of biscuits.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden.  Cool and serve bites with a fork.

This is a little like maple-monkey bread.  It would also make a great base for a fall dessert, served with baked apples or pears and some whipped cream - like strawberry shortcake for fall.

Hope you enjoy your breakfast as much as we enjoy this!

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Yeast Bread

Growing up, my mom baked a lot of bread.  One of my favorite memories was baking bread on Saturday mornings.  We had a huge bowl, and we would make a quadruple batch of plain dough, and then the four of us would get a quarter of the dough to make our own special loaf.  I loved to make cinnamon bread.  And nothing is better than bread fresh from the oven!

I have been looking for a recipe for bread with some fall flavors.  I adapted one that I found for potato yeast bread, and tried sweet potatoes and some fall spices.  And a little brown sugar.

Sweet Potato Yeast Bread


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons milk


Add ingredients according to manufacturer's suggested order. Use white bread setting, light crust.
Makes a 2-pound loaf.

This is wonderful!  It is just the right blend of flavors, a little sweet, a little savory.  The sweet potato adds moisture and a nice delicate texture.

Fresh from the oven (well, bread machine...)?  Fabulous.  This would make great french toast.  Or a delicious turkey sandwich.  Leftovers would make out of this world bread pudding.

But I am thinking leftovers of this one aren't likely at our house.  We couldn't finish taking pictures without a taste.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nine Years

Nine years ago today, The Mr and I started our happily ever after.

After nine years, not showing too much wear...

We continue to enjoy all the moments of our lives together.  We've had a wonderful 9 years, and I am just the luckiest girl ever to have found The Mr.  Love you baby!

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