69 posts categorized "Baking" Feed

Chocolate, Chocolate Zucchine Loaf Cake

    Ch ch zucake22

     It is the time of year when one is blessed with a large, over-grown zucchini's. What is one to do with them? Well a cake is a perfect way to use up over-grown zucchini. I was given a huge zucchini last week and decided to make some muffins and a cake. Using the same recipe I filled muffin tins and froze them unbaking. I also made a large loaf cake out of the same batter. You could also bake this in a round cake pan. If use small loaf pans then this recipe will make two small loaves.

    About this recipe, I decided having both coco powder and chopped chocolate would add a more complex flavor. Plus with the week I have had, I needed all the chocolate I can get ;-)

    Also as with a lot of my recipes I use both melted butter and oil. I do this because the butter adds flavor and the oil adds moister. My big pet-peeve usually about this type of cake it they are too sweet and too dry. So the oil helps keep it moist. I also use buttermilk for a tender crumb. Adding a small amount of instant espresso will boost the rich chocolate flavor.

    Lastly I bake it at 325˚F, not 350˚F. Most recipes for this type of cake call for 350˚F but that is too high (well in my humble opinion it is). This is a big loaf cake and it will take a while to bake.  At 350˚F the outside will be done long before the inside, thus giving you a dry cake with overcooked edges. I will say that everyone's oven is different and you need to work with your oven. I would suggest try baking this at a lower temp and see how it does. I am much happier with my cakes when I do. Also start checking it at 40 minutes, as soon as the center come clean when you insert a skewer, pull it from the oven!!


Chocolate, Chocolate Zucchini Loaf Cake

Wet ingredients:

1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/3 cup oil (I use mild flavored olive oil)

3 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 TBL. vanilla

2 cups shredded zucchini (I run it through the food processor)

Dry ingredients :

1 1/2 cups flour (I used half white/half whole wheat pastry)

1/2 cup coco powder

1 TBL. instant espresso powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips

Pre-heat oven 325˚F. Grease a large loaf pan or cake pan.

In  large bowl mix wet ingredients. Then sift together dry ingredients and stir into wet. Add chocolate chips and pour batter into greased pan.

Bake 325˚F for 45-55 minutes, or till center is cooked.

Let cook 5 minutes before pulling the cake out of the pan.

A Highland Toffee Hello


Hello ladies, you are all so kind and left such encouraging words. I really appreciated and quite frankly was able to enjoy my little break, since you gave me permission to do it. Thank you xox

Well I played a lot; Medieval fair, grilled oysters on the beach, practice my calligraphy, did a collage, dear hubby has perfected his smoked ribs, had a surprise Hawaiian birthday party for a friend, baked, ect. We finally seem to be bonding with Mayra, the new bunny. She does not like our woods floors. She only hangs out in her cage or the large towel we set in front of it. So I do not (at this point) have to worry about her getting into things around my house. Also isn't my first Abraham Darby rose of the season just dreamy!

I made a new yummy bar cookie, my family is loving. I saw the recipe for these Highland Toffee bars but I wanted to make them a bit healthier. Here are the changes I made and the recipe.

thick rolled oats V. instant oats

rice syrup V. corn syrup (rice syrup is a great sweetener. It has a slight malty flavoring, so it adds to the toffee flavor. Here are two links talking about rice syrup)

bittersweet chocolate V. semisweet

virgin olive oil  V. vegetable oil (I buy the oil at Costco and it really does not have much flavor and use it for all my baking. Then I use the extra virgin olive oil for my cooking)

Evaporated cane and 1 TBL. of molasses V. brown sugar


My Highland Toffee Bars

2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil

1/2 cup evaporated cane or coconut sugar

1 TBL. molasses

1/4 cup rice syrup

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts, I like sliced almonds and pecans

1 cup chopped or chips, bittersweet chocolate

Grease a square baking pan.

Pre-heat oven 350˚F. In a sauce pan put oil, sugar, molasses, rice syrup, vanilla and salt. Set over medium heat, cook a minute or two until all is melted and blended. Then add oats and toasted nuts. Pour oats into greased small baking pan or cake pan (I use a 10x110" pan) and smooth out. 

Bake for 12 minutes. Pull out of oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Wait five minutes and then the chocolate will be melted. Spread chocolate over the top. Allow bars to cool an hour (or enjoy warm and crumbly) before cutting into bars!

One of my baking secrets


    As I have said I am on a tight food budget. So I am always looking for way to make my recipes a bit more, without breaking the bank. I do this is by looking for new ways to use inexpensive ingredients. Semolina flour is one of my favorite tricks. It adds a softer texture then cornmeal or polenta but a bit more then white flour. I use it a lot in my baking.

    Pound cake is one of my favorite cakes. I love a dense but moist, fine crumb cake. I am a lazy cook and baking has been good for me because it has made me slow down and not take shortcuts. I have found some rules are really important.

   First soften the butter. I mean really soft. It will in the long run save you a lot of work. You are going to be scraping down the sides of the bowl. The softer the butter, the easier it is to do. You will not be fighting your batter so much.

    Second really let your mixer do your work for you. You want to cream that butter and sugar, so it is all nice and fluffy. This will make a big difference in you crumb. So let the mixer go the full 3 minutes (instead of for a minute on as high and say that is good enough, like I use to do  :)                                                                                     

    Lastly about scraping down the bowl, I know it is a hassle but you really want all that butter well incorporated into your batter. So just do it. You will be glad you did. I promise.

    Pound cake is really easy, just a lot of little steps. Once you have done it, it will not be a big deal. Remember it is better to have a small slice of something amazing, then a whole lot of nothing.


Semolina Pound Cake with Dried Cherries

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semolina flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 pound (two sticks) of softened butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

zest of a small lemon

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup yogurt

1/2 cup dried cherries or any dried fruit


Pre-heat oven to 325 ◦F

Butter and flour bunt or loaf pan.

Sift together flours, soda and salt and set aside.

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium.

Add zest and vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time, and scrape down the sides of the bowl with each egg.

On low speed, mix in one-third of the flour mixture until flour is just incorporated. Mix in half of the yogurt. Repeat, ending with last third of the flour until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is light golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

This is perfect for tea, dessert, breakfast or just because.

Three Citrus Cookies




I thought I should make something that did not have chocolate in, although I am not sure why :)

These three citrus cookies are divine and refreshing, especially this time of year. They are basically a sugar cookie with the zest of lemon, lime and orange. If you already have a sugar cookie recipe you love just add the zest to it. I roll the dough into logs, freeze the dough and slice off cookies to bake. As with the other recipes  I have been sharing, do not thaw. I find inserting the dough wrapped in a piece of wax paper into a paper towel tube, helps me to roll the dough. The dough is soft and easy to roll.

A couple of tips.

1 I use a fair amount of zest because remember when you freeze items they loose their flavor a bit and you want to keep that punch.

2 Make sure you really get your butter and egg mixture all mixed because when you add the flour, you want to just barely mix it till it comes together. So feel free to really mix the butter and scrap the bowl and get all those bits, so you are ready for the flour.

3 If you do not want to freeze the dough at lest chill it an hour. You want that butter to re-harden.

4 After the cookie dough has frozen make sure you wrap the dough well and always keep frozen.

5 Keep roll on flat surface till frozen, so it will freeze flat (I made this mistake !!)

6 Here is a tag (just click on it to make it bigger) for you to save in your pictures and print up. If you give a roll to a needy friend you can add the tag. Enjoy !!!


Three Citrus Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 cup all-purpose white flour (or all white flour)

1/2 cup sugar, I used evaporated cane

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

zest of a lime

zest of a lemon

zest of 1/2 a orange

In mixer cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Add zests, yolks and vanilla. Mix, scrap down bowl and mix again. Add flour and salt and mix till it just comes together. 

Divide dough in half. Roll  into 12 inch long logs. Wrap in wax paper and freeze on cookie sheets. When frozen cut logs in half and wrap in wax paper again. Then set rolls into freezer baggie.   

To bake, pre-heat oven 350. Slice cookies, set on greased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden on the edges.

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Chocolate Granola




Lets have breakfast. I have never made this before and I have to say it is a big hit. We call it healthy coco puffs, because it turns the milk all chocolaty. Now you will have to bare with me a minute. I can go on and on about food, but I will try not to. When I was deciding what nuts and fruits to use, I thought about a Pinot Noir. A good red wine and chocolate have a lot in common. There is the woody oak and tannins, to me hazelnuts have the same qualities. Then there is the fruit. Figs, cherries, strawberries. Also sometimes coconut, herbs, lavender. I tried to match some of those flavors in this granola. So that is why I chose the nuts and fruits I did, but any will do. Use what you love. Some versions I am planning on making are ginger or orange. If you are using nuts you should toasted them before you make granola. It will add sooo much more flavor. If you do not know how to toasted and peel hazelnuts, here is how . I keep my granola in an old glass peanut butter jar. Just pick a container that is tight.

Chocolate Granola

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raw sunflower seed

1/3 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coco powder

2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup oil (I use mild flavor olive oil)

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup dried figs, cubed

1/2 cup dried currents

1/2 cup dried cherries, cut in half

Pre-heat over 300

Put in a big bowl nuts, germ, coconut, oats and coco. In a small bowl mix oil, honey, maple and salt. Pour liquid over oats and mix. If all oats do not look coated add a bit more oil, till all coated.

Spread oats on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 40-60 till oats dried. turn oats over every 15 minuets to ensure even toasting. Allow to cool before storing in container.






One thing I try to always have in my freezer are biscuits. We are big tea drinkers (12 pds a year) and I like to be able to at lest have some biscuits with our tea. They are great for desserts too. Add some sliced bananas and nutella. Of course fresh fruit and whip cream, or just jam and butter. My favorite is a piece of chocolate (dark of course :) with orange marmalade !!!

You will see this recipe (click above) uses buttermilk. I use a high fat buttermilk. Fat makes perfect biscuit. I know, I know fat. But it is better to have one small perfect thing, then a whole lots of nothing.

Also I say in the recipe to kneed 6 times. What I mean is to fold over the dough six time. You press the dough into a rectangle, fold over, turn the dough. Basically do this pattern 6 times. This will help create a flaky biscuits. It is not hard, just press gently.

Lastly I think baking biscuits frozen makes a better biscuit. Now I am not an a pastry chef and do not know a ton about the science of baking. I can not prove this but I think the texture and moistness of a biscuit that was baked off frozen is better then chilled. So I always freeze my biscuits. Boy that does not sound good does it ;)


3 Ginger Banana Muffins



 My freezer is full of unbaked muffins !!! I do not like to bake muffins and then freeze them. I find they just are not as good. So I started playing around with how to freeze the muffins unbaked. I have been doing this for several years and love it. It really only adds a few minutes to the cooking time. Every once in a while I will get a one weird muffin that does not cook like the rest but that has happened maybe 6 times.

This is what I do, I set paper cups in muffin tins and fill the cups with the batter. I set the tin in the freezer. When the muffins freeze I pull them out of the tins and put them in freezer baggie. I like that I can pull out only as many muffins as I want to bake. I just set the frozen muffin in the muffin tin and bake. Easy, easy!!

One problem I have had with freezing muffins is if the recipe has a lot of sugar it does not fully freeze. I do use several different types’ flour because I think it is healthy to eat different types of grains. But you can make this with all white, all wheat even gluten free.

Another thing, I used both oil and butter in most muffins I make. Oil adds moister to the muffins but I love the taste of butter. So I use both. I know there seems like a long list of ingredients but it is all those spices add layers and that add more depth of flavor. Also when you freeze things the spices sort of lose some of their pow, so up the ginger and cinnamon a bit.


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 3 Ginger Banana Muffins

make about 16 muffins


3 ripe bananas

2 eggs

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar or evaporated cane

1/4 cup mild flavored olive oil

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

1 tsp. vanilla extract.

3 TBL. finely chopped candied ginger

1 TBL. fresh grated ginger

1 tsp. powdered ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven 350˚F

In a bowl mash bananas with a potato masher. Then add eggs, butter, oil, and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, add and stir until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups to top and bake 20-30 minutes, until center is done (remember do not over bake !)

Soda Bread with Candied Oranges and Dark Chocolate




Okay this is another one of those brilliant recipes that always turns out and always impresses. The yummy soad bread with just a hint of chocolate and orange is amazing !!!!

It makes a large loaf. What I do is make a double batch and then make four small loafs. I make the dough and set each round in one corner of a cookie sheet. I then set the cookie sheet in the freezer uncovered. When the dough freezes, I wrap each loaf individually in foil and put it in a freezer baggies. Then when wanting a loaf you unwrap it and bake frozen. It will only add 5-10 minutes more to cooking. There are 2 reasons I do this. First the original loaf is pretty big to bake off frozen. Second I am trying to controle what we eat. If I bake a lot, we eat a lot. A small loaf make 4 nice size wedges. Just perfect for my family.



Without going on and on, one of the problems with baking is there are lots of different versions of things. Soda bread can be like that. It can be very dry and bread like, it can be very moist and biscuit like. I would say this recipe is similar to a scone batter (well to what I call a scone. Again different people have different versions). One person mentioned their scones never turn out. Well without me being there I am not sure why. It could be a bad recipe. Sadly to say, there are more bad recipes out there then good ones. But here are some tricks that work for me when making things like scones, biscuits and this recipe.

1. Keep butter in the size of small peas. You do not want it blended too much. You want to feel rough pieces of butter. As you bake, those bigger pieces of butter will help create a flaky texture.

2. Make sure the butter is very cold before you bake. Let say you are making this recipe and want to bake it then. At least set your soad bread back in the fridge or freezer for 1/2 hour to rechill the butter. Cold is your friend.

3.Do NOT over mix. This is not bread dough, you do not want to knead. Use a light hand when working. When mixing wet with dry mix till it just comes together, then stop. Even when using a recipe for biscuits that calls for kneading, go very lightly.

4. Do not OVERbake. A lot of baked items I have had over the years were baked way to long. You bake till the center is done. If it is cookies you bake even less but that is another post. Do not worry about if the outside looks brown enough, just cook this soad bread till it is cooked in the center. Not a minute more. With this recipe, at 40 minutes I would start keeping an eye on it.

5. Lastly, this is not a trick but I find baked items like this cooked with buttermilk seem to be tender. So the buttermilk in the recipe will help. Get the best richest buttermilk you can get.

I hope this helps. I am no expert, just a homemaker. But over the years of me cooking, helping other, teaching my girls and friends these are things I have learned. I know with this long post it sounds hard, but it really is not. After a couple of times it will seem like old hat.


Soda Bread with Candied Oranges and Dark Chocolate

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all white flour)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup bittersweet , cut into 1/3-inch pieces or chips
1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced or zest from 2 oranges
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat to 350°F. Grease baking sheet. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter, rub in with fingertips or mix in a food processor until butter is the size of small peas. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Add buttermilk and egg in medium bowl until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Scoop dough onto cookie sheet. Form dough into about 6-inch-diameter round, about 2 inches high. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep x on top of bread.

Bake bread about 50-65 minutes (35-45 for small loaf) till center comes clean when inserted with a skewer. Transfer bread to rack.
Makes 1 large round loaf


My no-bake cookies


   My freezer is looking pretty empty and that always makes me nervous. I love to see my basement full of rolls of toilet-paper, plenty of light bulbs, extra laundry soap and a full freezer. I want back up, extra, just in case. I am not sure what I think is going to happen but just in case. I am blessed with a 1000 square foot basement, so I can indulge this quirk!

    As much as I love to cook, as I always say I am a lazy cook. For me it is just as easy to make a triple batch, as a single batch. Then I have extras for down the road. I decided this coming week to focus on baking and desserts. All week I will be posting recipes for baked items to fill your freezer and easy quick desserts.

     My plan is each morning for this up & coming week is to make one item each day. Hopefully at the end of the week I will have plenty of muffins, scones, soda bread, cookies, etc. Not just for my family over the next few months but also for friends in need, unexpected guests. It is  lovely to be able to whip out some scones for impromptu tea parties as needed. If you are interested in doing some baking, here is a wonderful post from Dawn.  Hopefully it will help get you motivated, it did me !!

   The first recipe I am posting is not a recipe you would make ahead but this is an easy, quick no-bake cookie. It is perfect for those days when you have a house full of children (or even discriminating adults, like me :-) and you want something yummy and fast. There is a ton of versions of no-bake cookies out there. This is different for a few reasons. First this version has no peanut butter. I use coconut oil (or you can use butter) instead of peanut butter. Second there are a lot of versions with coco powder but I add chocolate too. I also cut the sugar way back. Most recipes call for 2 cups of sugar. Lastly you can use quick, regular or thick rolled oats. Just use what what you like.

My version of No-Bake cookies

1/3 cup of coconut oil or butter

1/2 cup sugar (I sure coconut sugar)

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup coco powder

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cup rolled oats

1/2 chopped toasted pecans

In a sauce pan bring to a boil coconut oil, sugar, milk, coco powder, salt. Boil 2-4 minutes until starts to thicken. Pull off heat, add chocolate and sir until melted. Then add nuts and oats. Scoop small balls with two spoons onto wax paper and let sit unti firmer.

They are stick because I cut back on the sugar and a bit cocnutty, yummm!

Art by Steff Green

Violet shortbreads




Well with all the questions on how to use the violet sugar, I thought I would create a recipe using the sugar. These are shortbread cookies that are rolled out and cut. Similar to a sugar cookie but a bit firmer which will make them easier to dip in the violet scented chocolate. I sprinkled the cookies with the sugar and then after they are baked dip half the cookie in the chocolate. I think these would be adorable cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter. If you make these I would love to hear if you liked or hated them. Enjoy 

Violet Shortbreads
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup powder sugar
violet sugar for top of cookie
Chocolate dipping sauce
1/2 cup dark chocolate chopped or chips
Pre-heat 350
In mixer cream butter and sugar till fluffy. About 2 minutes. Add salt and flour. Mix till dough comes together. But do not over-mix. Chill dough 2 hours in fridge till firm. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Place cookies on greased cookie-sheet. Sprinkle top of each cookie with violet sugar.  Place cookie-sheet in fridge for 15 minutes to firm dough up again. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes till edges just start to turn golden.
When cookies cool dip half of cookies in chocolate sauce and set on rack till chocolate firmed
Chocolate Sauce
in a double boiler slowly melt chocolate and sugar
Painting by Painted Ladies


Cranberry Muffins


For Thanksgiving breakfast we are having cranberry muffins. I wanted to share that (as you know) I am big for having food in the freezer, to save me time and money. Well I keep unbaked muffins in the freezer. This is how I do it. I set paper cups in muffin tins, fill each cup with batter. Set pans in freezer. When batter is frozen, I transfer the muffins to freezer baggies. Then I pull out what I want to bake. I DO NOT defrost muffins. I just set the cup frozen in the muffin tin and bake. It will take the muffins maybe 5 minutes longer. Not much. It is soo easy and then you have fresh baked muffins any time you want. This recipe is a page from a cookbook I am making for each of the girls. It make 4-5 dozen muffins.


Kristin asked about roasting pumpkin, if it tasted better. I do think it does taste better, but it is not a big difference. The big reason I roast the pumpkins is because it is so darn easy. I cut pumpkins in half, scoop out seeds. I use a jelly roll pan (but any pan with sides). Put a 1/2 inch water and set pumpkins in pan. Bake uncovered 350 till pumpkin tender and can easily be pierced with knife. Do not worry about water cooking away, do not add more water. Let pumpkin cool and scoop flesh into processor an throw away skin. Process pumpkin till smooth. I freeze cup-fulls in baggies. This is so much easier then cubing, peeling and steaming (The way I use to do it). Thank you Angie for teaching me this easy way, you are the best !!

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

   Choccherry cake

    Well it is fruitcake season! There is only a few things I make year after year and my cherry chocolate fruitcake is one on them. It is a favorite and if you do not like fruitcake you will love this. This fruitcake has both sour and sweet cherries, dried figs (thye have a bit of a cherry flavor themselves), a hint of orange to perk things up and hunks of bittersweet chocolate to gild the lily. The reason most people do not like fruitcake is because of the candied citron. This recipe does not have citron but does have candied orange peel, you can leave that out and use the zest of two oranges instead. Feel free to play with the combo of fruits, just end up with the same total amount, 2 cups. The same goes with the nuts.

Chocolate fruitcake

    This year I am leaving out the orange and using dried raspberries. We will see what I think (a note, did not like it). I like to use bittersweet chocolate and sour cherries to make up for all those sweet candied cherries. Even though they are so sweet, I love them. Of course the better chocolate you use, the better your fruitcake will be. I use port wine for this because it mirrors the taste of dried cherries, figs, raisins, etc. and helps add a depth of flavor. You can use good old rum or brandy too xox

Chocolate fruitcake 2


Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

makes 2 loaves or 6 mini


1/4 cup golden raisin

1/2 cup sour dried cherries, cut in half

1/2 cup candied cherries, cut in half

1/4 cup dried figs, cut in small cubes

1/2 cup candied orange peel

a generous cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1/2 cup softened butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 TBL. vanilla extract

1/4 cup port (or milk)

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/4 cup coco powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

bottle of port



Pre-heat oven 350˚F

In a large bowl mix all fruit, nuts and chopped chocolate. In a mixer bowl cream butter and sugar together. Then mix in eggs and vanilla. Remember to scrap the sides! Sift in separate bowl flour, coco, baking powder, and salt. And in a fourth bowl mix milk and port together. Add half the flour mixture in the creamed butter. Then add milk/port, then the rest of four. Now mix batter into the fruit and nut mixture. Spoon into greased 2 -8 inch round pans or 2 loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans (that is what I use). Bake till center when poked comes clean, 60 minutes or so. Let cool 10 minutes then un mold. When cool wrap each fruitcake in piece of cheese cloth and set in container to keep. Sprinkle top with port. Next day turn over and sprinkle bottom with port. Next day turn over and keep repeating for a week. Then once a week sprinkle with port. Unless you feel the cake it feeling too wet then stop. Keep cover till Christmas.


Harvest Breakfast Cookies


Dear Joanne shared these yummy harvest crunch cookie recipe. I finally got around to making them. Of course I had to fool with the recipe. Actually I could see they were going to be to sweet for me and were cooked to high, to long. So I played with the recipe and tweaked it a bit. I hope you do not mind Joanne. I posted both recipes, so you can decide what you would like to do. I am calling them breakfast cookies because they would be prefect for something like breakfast. They are so healthy and have lots of protein and fiber.

What I really love about these cookies, is how you could play with them and use what ever you like (or have on-hand) . Any nuts, seeds, dried fruits would work. You could use any liquid sweetener (rice syrup, maple, honey, ect) any dry sweetener (white, brown, evaporated cane, ect.) I used a muti-rolled grain mix, instead of oats. I used some spelt flour and oat flour with the whole wheat pastry.

I know this is a longggggg list of ingredients but think of it this way,  it is healthy to have lots of different grains and seeds, it is a great way to sneak in something for your family. If you do not like cookies with lots of nuts, you will not like these. Basically the batter binds all these fruit, seeds and nuts. Plus I think using serveral sweeterns, gains, spices adds more layers of flavors.

Boy I have a lot to say about a simple recipe but lastly I have been wanted to talk more about freezing batter. I am really into making double, triple batches and freezing them. It is so win-win. You can control how much your family eats, you can always have good healthy food on-hand, if a friend is in neeed you always have something for them. All I do is spoon dough on cookie sheets (close together) and set the sheet in the freezer. Then when frozen, transfer the balls of dough into freezer baggie. Then you can bake off how many cookies at a time you want. Important DO NOT defrost your cookies. Just set them frozen on the sheet and bake them. I promise they will only take a minute or two longer. I promise. So now I have 5 dozen breakfast cookies in my freezer. Thank you (((Joanne )))

Harvest Crunch Cookies

1 C. butter, softened
1 C. brown sugar packed
1/2 C. honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. wheat germ
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. oats
1 1/2 C. dried cranberries
1 C. chopped almonds
1/3 C. sunflowers seeds
1/3 C. flax seeds
1/3 C. sesame seeds
1/3 C. pumpkin seeds

Heat oven to 375. Cream butter, brown sugar, honey,eggs and vanilla together.

Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture gradually, beating until blended. Stir in oats, cranberries, nuts seeds. Mix well. Drop dough by heaping tsps. about 2 in. apart onto greaseed cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 min. or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to rack and cool completely.

Can replace cranberries with choc. chips
Harvest Breakfast Cookies

1 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. brown sugar packed (I used rapadura)
1/2 C. honey (I used 1/4 honey and 1/4 rice syrup)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. wheat germ
1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. grounded ginger
1 1/2 C. oats
1 chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs

2 TBL. finely chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup chopped toasted cashews

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 C. sunflowers seeds
1/3 C. flax seeds
1/3 C. sesame seeds
1/3 C. pumpkin seeds
Heat oven to 350. Cream butter, sugars,eggs and vanilla together.

Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to creamed mixture gradually, beating until blended. Stir in oats, fruits, nuts seeds. Mix well. Drop dough by heaping tsps. about 2 in. apart onto greaseed cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes ot so, till edges start to brown. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to rack and cool completely.

Cupcake Love


Imagine a whole blog dedicated to cupcakes !! I have to say I have been reading about cooking since I was a teenage (a longgggg time). A lot of what I read now, is "been there, done that" for me (although I still love to read about cooking) but this blog was WoW. Like green tea/lavender/honey cupcake above. Inventive, unusual, motivational and got me thinking. I think it is so important to think about cooking, long before you step in the kitchen. You need to be excited and visualize what you want to cook.

Zucchini cake with lime curd and whipped Cream Fraiche


I got to meet an on-line friend today. It is so fun to meet someone in person you have chatted with. We had a wonderful chat, yummy tea and Zucchini cake with lime curd and whipped Cream Fraiche. It was a lovely day. One thing about the cake, when you spread the filling do not spread to edge. The filling spreads when you add the top of cake. My poor friend had to have cake with curd dripping off the side. It was yummy but messy. You could serve slice of cake then spoon curd and cream over the top.

Zucchini Cake
¼ cup butter
¼ cup oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup shredded zucchini
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven 350. Grease and flour cake pan. Cream butter and sugar. Then add oil, vanilla and eggs. Sift together dry imprudence and add to wet. Mix and then mix in zucchini. Pour in pan, bake about 25-35 minutes. Till cake tester come out clean.
Cool, then slice cake horizontally into two. Spread lime curd on bottom layer, then spoon whipped cream over curd. Then place top of cake back on whipped cream. Just whip the Cream Fraiche like whipped cream. Add 2 TBL of sugar and whip. It is like tangy whip cream.
Lime Curd
Creme Fraiche
Creme fraiche is a naturally thickened cream with a tart and tangy flavor. Since heavy cream is pasteurized in the United States, it lacks the bacteria needed to produce creme fraiche. This can be remedied by combining 2 tbsp buttermilk per 1 cup heavy cream in a covered glass container and letting it sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir well and refrigerate
Painting by Jennifer Spencer

Lavender Day




On Saturday, we had our lavender day we have once a year. I am addicted to lavender, so I always look forward to going to the lavender fields. Sequim is becoming the big lavender grower in our area. It is called the banana belt and lavender does quite well there. Considering we are in the northwest. My favorite farm is Purple Haze. If you love lavender, there is nothing like standing in this giant purple field. It is amazing, plus the smell. I truly feel my stress melt, when I smell lavender. I also love Purple Haze because they have lavender lemonade and lavender ice cream.



They have several kinds, lavender custard (my fav.), lemon lavender, mint lavender, white chocolate lavender (Aubern'e fav) and lemon lavender sorbet. We went early and went to a u-pick farm We picked 26 pounds of strawberries. Which I am mostly freezing for future use. Then hot, we headed over to Purple Haze and sat under the willow tree and had ice cream. It was quite dreamy. I would say, now I have to wait another year to get my lavender fix. But I think we are going back in week or two to pick raspberries. So yeah !!

After another sangria incident (the ladies of the historical society LOVED the sangria at the Merryville festivities) I hesitate to post a lavender margarita recipe !!


Lavender Margaritas

1 cup tequila
1/2 cup blue curacao or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/3 cup lime juice
2 cups frozen raspberries
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 t. organic lavender buds
3-4 ice cubes

In a blender, combine the tequila, curacao, coconut milk and lime juice. Cover, turn to high speed, and gradually add berries, lavender, and ice. Whirl until smooth and slushy. Pour into glasses. You can rub glass rims with lime and dip the rim in lavender sugar or lavender salt below. Add a lavender sprig for garnish!


Lavender Salt Dry Rub

Can rub into beef steaks, chicken or wonderful on salmon steaks. Also make a ymyy rim of the margaritas above.

Store unused rub in a tightly sealed jar in a cool, dark place. It keeps well for 3 months, then is start to loose that lavender flavor .

Makes 1/2 cup

1 TBLS. dried lavender buds

1/2 cup coarse sea salt

Finely chop lavenderin a spice grinder and mix with salt.                


I can brag as a mom. Chloe is really getting into taking photos with the digital camera. She took the beautiful picture of the willow and the one of the pink lavender.

Buttermilk Biscuits

    It is strawberry time, so that mean strawberry shortcakes. I like to make buttermilk biscuits for this. I make the dough ahead of time. I cut them, then set them on cookies sheets and freeze the. Then I transfer them to in zip-lock baggies. I pull them out and bake them off frozen. It only takes a few minutes more. This is a great idea because I only use butter in my biscuits and to get that flakyness you want your butter cold and hard when you bake it.
    My other trick is to keep the butter cut in larger sizes (about a small pea). I cut the butter into my flour with a food-processor carefully . Then add the liquid ingredients in a bowl by hand.
    The last trick is the buttermilk I use. I know sadly not all of you will be able to get Bulgarian buttermilk. But if your store does carry it I highly recommend it. I know it is a bit more and it is totally worth it. It is so much richer and flavorful !! It make a huge difference in my baking. I like to use buttermilk in my baked items because it helps it to have a more tender crumb.
Buttermilk Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 TBL milk or cream for brushing biscuits
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a bowl. Blend in butter till it is the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until a dough just forms (dough will be moist).

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently fold over, press down in an even square till 1 inch thick. Do this  6 times. Pat out dough on a floured surface with floured hands, reflouring surface if necessary, cut, flouring knife between cuts. Transfer biscuitsto a greased baking sheet, arranging them 2 inches apart. Set in fridge one hour for butter to firm or freeze. Brush tops with milk or cream. Bake until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature.

Makes 6 biscuits


Peanutbutter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Do you have those recipes all your friends LOVE, well these cookies are one of them for me. I wanted to say it is important to get the dough right and NOT over cook them.
First the dough should be really soft but not sticky. Kind of the way homemade play-dough is. If it is crumbly at all add a little milk. If is is loose and sticking to your hands add some flour. It is hard to give exact measurements with this dough because peanut butters are so different, some is much drier then other. I make own peanut butter  and it is very soft. Also do not leave out the maple syrup. I know it is a small amount but it highlights the cookie so well.
Second do not over cook them. This is a pet-peeve with me. People over cook their cookies. I need to have tea shirts made with this. You want the edge of the cookie slightly brown and you can lift the edge. But you want the center slightly wet. These cookies are so yummy too because of the softness of them. So err on the side of undercooked. Please let me know what you think !!
Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
8 TBLS butter, soften (1 stick)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 brown sugar or rapadura
3 TBLS maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 flour (you can use whole wheat pastry flour,
(I use 1/2 and 1/2)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chopped or chips
Pre-heat over 350.
Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar together till fluffy (a minute or two). Add egg, maple, vanilla. Scrap down bowl and add flour and baking soda. Then add chocolate chips.
Scoop balls of dough on greased cookie sheet and bake 11-14 minutes.

Earl Gray Cookies

We love our tea time. We try to have tea most afternoons. My mother comes over once a week and we knit and read and have tea time. As of lately we have been reading George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster. I have to say I am not a big lover if history books but I am really enjoying this one. It is a lovely way to stop and refresh. We like to imagine we are having tea at the Perwinkle Cottage. And we are always looking for an excuse to to make something yummy.
We have been loving these Earl Grey cookies. Here is a Martha's recipe
Mine is different from hers. I added some whole wheat pastry flour to make it healthier. Also icing to help add that Earl Gray taste and I left out the orange peel. I know it is used to help bring out the bergamot flavor in the Earl Grey but I think it competes with it. Just the Earl Grey is lovely. We keep them in a log in the freezer and slice them off and bake them when ever we want some. It only take a minute to make the icing. I just use the tea I am making at the moment. Easy, quick and yummy.
Earl Gray Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbls. earl gray tea
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter softened
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
Run tea leaves and sugar though processor to chop leaves a bit. Cream butter then add flour, sugar/tea leaves, salt and mix. Divide dough in half and roll into a log on parchment or wax paper. Freezer at lest one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.
Bake until edges turn golden, 8-10  minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
To make icing
Take 2 cups of confection sugar and slowly stir in tea till constantly you like. Start with 4 TBLS of tea.