Category Archives: Sweets

Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon Curd
Yield: 1 Pint Jar Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients – Equipment Needed
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3/4 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
6 to 7 tablespoons cold butter
1 sauce pan OR double boiler
sift / strainer
juicer (optional, just your hands works well too!)
zester / micro plane

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Step 1: zest one lemon, roughly a tablespoon worth of zest, set aside. Juice lemons, strain pulp, and set aside.

Step 2: Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Reserve egg whites for another recipe* Add egg yolks and one whole egg to sauce pan or double boiler**. Add in lemon juice, sugar, zest, and whisk till incorporated. Now turn on your heat low, keep whisking…

* Side note – saving eggs: Separated eggs can be frozen easily and stored in a freezer sealed bag for at least six months to a year. In my instance, I have backyard chickens and have an abundance of eggs, so in order to not waste, I separate them, and freeze. This recipe is made with frozen eggs.

** Side note – double boiler vs stand alone sauce pan: this is based on your comfort level of cooking eggs to ensure you don’t turn your yolks to scramble. The double boiler keeps the liquid eggs from the direct heat, allowing you more flexibility when whisking to not develop scrambled eggs. If you do not have a double boiler, you’re still good… just keep the temp very low, and don’t stop whisking. Worse case, get out that fine mesh strainer and run your curd through to remove any lumps that may have formed during cooking.

Step 3: one by one add in a tablespoon of butter. Whisk till incorporated and add another, one at a time. Keep whisking. At this time, get a small metal spoon and take a dip. Time to taste test before the curd comes together. Not sweet enough, add a teaspoon or more of sugar and keep whisking… keep whisking… and watch the magic start to happen.

Step 4: after 15 + minutes of whisking you will see your curd start to thicken. Keep in mind, once you turn off the heat the curd will continue to cook and continue to thicken. When you’re able to form soft peaks with your curd you are ready to turn off the heat and set aside. Once cooled, transfer your curd to a pint jar with sealing lid. If you’re concerned with lumps, run your curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps formed during cooking.

Storage: half pint and pint jars by Ball or Kerr freeze extremely well and this recipe will freeze incredibly well for at least 6 months. Its consistency remains in tact even after freezing. Store in the fridge in a sealed pint jar for up to a week… if it lasts that long.


Meyer Lemon Curd
Serving Suggestion: we enjoyed a dollop of Meyer Lemon Curd this morning atop my homemade french toast and berry sauce… everything from scratch… bread, berry sauce, & lemon curd!

Banana Bread Muffins

According to the interwebs, banana bread was one of the top icons of the recent quarantine. Everyone and their grandmother has been baking like their lives depend on it and banana bread was at the top of the list. This is not your grandmother’s quarantine banana bread. These are fluffy, moist and quite chocolaty. A perfect mobile breakfast for the meal planning guru’s arsenal, easily adjusted to be gluten free using a 1:1 baking flour, and really the only way I’ll enjoy banana anything… muffins!

Chocolate chip or double chocolate with deep rich red dutch cocoa, better than grandma’s. If my grandmother heard me say this… she might agree! This recipe is hers, with a twist.

As it relates to a meal planner’s arsenal, these muffins store well in the fridge or freezer and easily warm up in the oven or microwave oven for a good meal “on the go”. During what I refer to as meal prepping Sundays, I make at least a dozen and this will satisfy breakfast for my little boys for the entire week.

So don’t let those bananas go to waste on your counter top. If anything *pro-tip*, peel, cut in half, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to a freezer sealed bag to use for future smoothie material. OK, I’ll enjoy banana two ways… but for now… muffins!!

Banana Bread Muffins
350 (f) degrees / 25 – 30 minutes baking time / 10-15 minute prep time
Yield One Dozen (12) Muffins

3 Medium Ripe Bananas
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Spice (combination of cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg)
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
2 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips (or as many as you like!)

For Double Chocolate Chip Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Add 1/4 Cup Red Dutch Cocoa Powder
Reduce All-Purpose Flour to 2 Cups only

For Gluten Free Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Replace All-Purpose Flour with 2 1/4 Cups of 1:1 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment mix bananas, vanilla, sugars, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, change the whisk attachment to the mixing attachment to fold in the flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

If no stand mixer is available, start by mashing the bananas and sugar together with a fork or potato masher, then with a hand whisk or handheld mixer whisk in vanilla, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, use a spatula and fold in flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

Your batter should be thick and not able to easily fall from the spoon.

Why add the soda & powder to the wet ingredients & not the dry like every recipe on the interwebs??? I’ve found that by whisking the soda & powder with the wet ingredients, it helps to create a fluffier texture. This is why I recommend folding (do not over mix) your flours into the wet to avoid breaking down the fluff you’ve just created. I’m no scientist but baking is a science and to test & experiment is to find new improved ways to do things!

Fill each cupcake liner to the brim. Don’t overflow but fill them to the top. Place the filled muffin tin in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick to ensure a clean removal & your muffins are done and ready to consume.

Stores well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or in a freezer bag for a few months. Heat up on the go in the oven or the microwave for a few minutes. Perfect with your morning beverage to go!


Graham Bars

Graham Bars

When I was a kid sweets were not a frequent part of our household unless it was the holidays or a birthday. I spent a majority of my after school afternoons at my grandmother’s house waiting for my mom to get off work. The snacks Grandma kept for my afternoon stays were basic; cheese, nuts, fruit, and the occasional package of fig newtons. Needless to say I consumed a lot of fig newton’s given they were the only semi-sweet treat in the house.

Fast forward many years later. I still carried a love of fig newton’s but given our change in food habits, store bought fig newtons didn’t fit into our food lifestyle. Fig newtons were, in our minds, filled with over processed unknown not good for you ingredients. I didn’t think much of making my own fig newton’s until we moved to a property that had a fig tree. Upon having more figs than I knew what to do with (besides sharing with friends) my first attempt in cooking with figs was a pear and fig tart.Graham Bars

Graham Bars Although it was a tasty option I needed to find more recipes to use up the figs… fig jam seemed like the logical next step. The hubs did not approve. He was not a fan. The jam was not a flavor we were used to. It was a simple recipe of orange juice, sugar, pectin, and of course figs. Now here I sit with an abundance of fig jam and nothing to do with it. Then nostalgia set in and my memory of fig newton’s flooded back. Why couldn’t I try? I could use the fig jam as the filling!!

The crust or cookie outer layer of the newton was not as easy to figure out. Most of the recipes I came across were more like a shortbread than a soft cookie. I made a batch. They were OK but I gave up after one attempt. I like shortbread but as a healthy snack it didn’t fit; too much butter, sugar and not much else.

We eventually moved and said goodbye to the fig tree. I took with us several jars of fig jam that I had canned from the previous season. What was I going to do with this jam? I couldn’t waste it. I had to figure something out. Then it hit me; my graham cracker recipe! It was the perfect cookie consistency and something I felt good about making more than once a month. I got to work and made our first batch.

The result was fantastic! I finally did it… fig newtons, graham style… I made graham bars! The hubs and kiddo approved!Graham Bars

I was finally able to use up the last of the jars of fig jam by way of the graham bars but now what was I to do. I no longer had easy access to figs. The logical next step was to use different fillings. Why not get wild with our graham bars…Graham Bars

We made apple…Graham Bars

and blueberry…Graham Bars

Blueberry monster faces of my niece and kiddo… who says kids can’t enjoy a healthy snack and still have fun…Graham Bars

and my favorite… apricot graham bars… all from local organic fruits in our community.Graham Bars

The graham bars are now a go-to in my snack arsenal for the kiddo. You can use any preserve, store bought or homemade. I choose to thicken up my filling by adding in a couple tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin. The blueberry filling didn’t need it because of its already natural heavy pectin content but the apricot needed some thickening. For purposes of this recipe I will reference the apricot but you can use any fruit preserve of your liking, with or without the gelatin added (just skip this step in the recipe and go straight to spreading out on the graham dough).

So here’s to bringing back childhood memories… with a twist… fig newtons graham style… Graham Bars… enjoy!!


Graham Bars

350 (f) degrees for 25-30 minutes / 30+ graham bars depending on cut size

Graham Cracker Recipe

1 Pint Favorite Fruit Preserves (we’ll use apricot in this recipe)

2 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (optional)


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees

Step 2: Prepare a deep edge cookie sheet tray with parchment paper

Step 3: In a sauce pan whisk in 2 tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin with your favorite preserves (in this recipe we’re using my homemade apricot jam made with local organic apricots, spice, lemon juice and pectin). After well mixed, remove from heat and set aside to cool.Graham Bars

Step 4: Follow the instructions to make graham cracker dough here: Graham Cracker Recipe. Once you get to the rolling portion of this recipe move on to step 5 below.

Step 5: Cut your ball of chilled graham cracker dough in half. You’ll roll each half separately. Roll your dough in the shape of a rectangle, roughly a quarter inch thick. Transfer the rolled dough to your parchment paper lined cookie tray. The dough will be delicate so be prepared for breakage. It doesn’t have to be perfect… if it breaks, just press the dough back together! Now take your cooled preserves and spread a thin layer over the entire rectangle leaving a quarter inch space around all edges.Graham Bars

Step 6: Now carefully fold each side half way making sure the final fold overlaps the first fold. Press the ends together to keep the preserves from oosing out during cooking. Repeat step 5 and step 6 with your 2nd half of dough. I take a sheet of tin foil and crumple it up to create a barrier between the two halves as there will be spreading during the cooking process. This creates a barrier to avoid the two halves baking together into one.Graham Bars

Step 7: Place the cookie sheet on the center rack of a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 25-30 minutes till edges are crisp and the graham is golden brown. Remove from oven and rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. After cooled you may remove the tinfoil barrier and cut desired sized bars. I use a pizza cutter but any knife will do.Graham Bars

Step 8: ENJOY! Your graham bars will store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week… or the refrigerator for two plus weeks… if they last that long.Graham Bars

So there you have it… my take on the fig newton… only better! Graham bars. Use your favorite preserves of any kind and enjoy!



Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

When life hands you lemons, you make Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake!

When I think of meyer lemons I think of my great grandparents and the modest meyer lemon tree in their backyard. My nona would pluck the lemons right off the tree and eat them as is. She’d bite right into them. I can remember the smell was distinct, bright and sweet. We were recently gifted a very large amount of meyer lemons from a family member’s backyard tree. I used the lemons to make candied lemon peels, homemade all purpose cleaner, lemon juice for cooking use, and other miscellaneous treats. The husband’s main request was coffee cake. We found the following recipe online. I made some minor tweaks to adapt to what was already in my pantry vs. heading to the store for extra ingredients. In the end I formulated my own version and have determined this is the best coffee cake I’ve ever tasted, hands down. It’s moist, sweet and tangy, bright, and simply wonderful. You could adapt any fruit to this cake mix but for the sake of late winter, early spring citrus; here is the best Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake you’ll ever try… enjoy!

meyer lemon coffeecake

* = organic
^ = local

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake
350 (f) degrees, 55 minutes

Crumble Top
1 cup all-purpose unbleached unbromated flour *
3/4 cup light brown sugar *
1/2 cup unsalted butter *
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Next grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

Step 2: In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cubed butter. Using your hands, a fork, or a pastry cutter; work the butter into the dry ingredients until you form a medium sandy like texture of a mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to top the cake.
meyer lemon coffeecake

meyer lemon coffeecake

The Cake
2 cups all-purpose unbleached unbromated flour *
1 teaspoon baking soda (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cane sugar * (I prefer cane sugar but you can use any granulated sugar)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal * (optional)
1 cup homemade yogurt *^ (You can use any store bought brand)
1/2 cup butter *
2 eggs *^
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extra *
5 Meyer Lemons, sliced thin
1/2 cup cane sugar * (this measurement is for the lemons only)

Step 3: Slice the meyer lemons as thin as possible. NOTE: You can use a sharp knife or a mandolin. I prefer a sharp knife because the mandolin slices too thin and the lemons fall apart in the cooking process.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 4: Place your sliced meyer lemons and sugar in a large sauce pan and cover with water. Place over a medium high heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This process helps to remove the bitter taste from the rind. Don’t let the mixture boil or your lemon slices will disolve.

Step 5: After simmering, remove the meyer lemon slices from the heat and drain. Place the slices on a cooling rack and set aside while you combine the cake ingredients.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 6: In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, flaxseed (optional), kosher salt, and set aside. In a stand mixer cream together, butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), yogurt, and vanilla till all ingredients are creamy and smooth. Now on low speed, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients till everything has been well mixed. Make sure to stop the mixer half way through mixing and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. You’ll have a thick cake batter consistency.
IMG_2943 v2

Step 7: Now divide the cake batter in half and spread it out on the bottom of the greased and floured 9 inch cake pan. Layer on half of the meyer lemon slices. Spread out the remaining cake batter, taking care not to move or spread the first layer. Spread out the remaining meyer lemon slices.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 8: Remove the brown sugar crumble from the refrigerator and spread out over the top of the meyer lemon slices to ensure all of the cake is covered. Use all of the topping because it will create a beautiful sweet crunchy crust and will keep in the moisture of the lemons. Place in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 55 minutes.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 9: Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edges and with a small metal spatula, place under the cake and lift onto a storage plate. The cake will rest well covered on the counter for a week… if it lasts that long! Cut a slice and enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee or tea!
meyer lemon coffeecake

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake… enjoy!
meyer lemon coffeecake

Homemade Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Homemade Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

“On a traffic light green means go and yellow means yield, but on a banana it’s just the opposite. Green means hold on, yellow means go ahead, and red means where the hell did you get that banana at?” ~ Mitch Hedberg

As I sit here and write this post my kitchen is filling with the sweet aroma of bananas and cinnamon. I have nostalgic memories of my grandmother whipping up banana bread whenever the days were rough. Have a hard day, no problem; grandma’s going to make some banana bread. It was something she could make that was quick, easy, good for you (what we thought at the time was good for us), and most of all comforting. At times she’d throw in an extra treat, adding chocolate chips and chopped up walnuts. It was the perfect snack, home from a long day at school, I’d warm up a piece of grandma’s banana bread and lather it with some butter and all would be good again.

I’ve brought back grandma’s banana bread but with a twist. I’ve slightly modified her recipe by nixing the vegetable oil, bleached flour, and added in a couple treats of my own with local raw honey, cinnamon, and organic flaxseed meal. It a common snack in my household and my 3 year old kiddo helps often to whip up a loaf. As soon as we see the bananas turning brown everyone is itching for me to make banana bread. This is a recipe that can be modified to your liking. Add nuts, fruits of different kinds, and control the sugar. This recipe once took 1 cup of white sugar. Today I’ve reduced it to a small amount of organic brown sugar & local raw honey. I’m sure you could omit the sugar all together given ripe bananas have a sweetness on their own. You can omit the chocolate or add extra… it’s all in how you like it. I’d like to attempt making a gluten free version.

Around here we like homemade chocolate chip banana bread. Enjoy!
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
325 (f) degrees 55-60 minutes greased & floured 8×11 pan

– 4-5 ripe bananas *
– 3 eggs *^
– 1/3 cup butter, melted *
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1/4 cup raw honey ^
– 1/2 cup brown sugar *
– 3 cups all purpose flour *
– 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal * (optional)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum free baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips *

Step 1: In a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re feeling strong) mash 4 to 5 ripe bananas till broken down and creamy.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 2: Next crack 3 eggs into a separate bowl to ensure there are no egg shells. On medium speed, add one egg at a time to the mashed banana in the mixer. Mix each egg until fully incorporated to the mashed banana.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 3: Next add in brown sugar, honey, and melted butter till fully incorporated with the banana mixture. Stop the mixer, and with a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are combined.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 4: In a separate bowl combine flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Set aside. On low speed add in the vanilla. Next slowly add in the dry ingredients a quarter at a time to ensure they are fully incorporated to the banana mixture. Again, stopping the mixture and using your spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixture to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 5: Next give a rough chop to the chocolate chips allowing for smaller bits to incorporate throughout the bread. On slow speed add the chocolate chips and mix till fully incorporated – do not over mix.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 6: Grease and flour an 8 x 11 baking dish.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 7: Pour the banana bread mixture into the greased & floured pan. Lightly tap the pan on a surface to ensure the mixture is level. Into a preheated 325 (f) degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Step 8: Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing and allowing to completely cool in a rack.
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Slather with butter… and… ENJOY!
homemade chocolate chip banana bread

Homemade Peach Pie

Homemade Peach Pie

“I don’t think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while.” ~ John Gould

homemade peach pie

As a child, I remember in my grandmother’s backyard an apple, apricot, and peach tree. Every summer the tiny peach tree would provide just enough fruit for grandma to make a few trays of peach bars, peach cobbler, and homemade peach pie. I remember her making the peach treats in the morning after picking the fruit and by late afternoon the tray holding the gooey peach goodness would have been picked over leaving a half mangled bar and several crumbs.

Peach season was short-lived and as I got older the tree seemed to get smaller and the fruit arrived less and less. The peach tree is now no longer there but it still provides me great memories.

Today, I have two peach trees in my backyard. I look forward to those beautiful peach blossoms and the bounty of fruit we’ll receive; and when we do we’ll be making peach bars, peach cobblers, peach jam, canning peaches for use later in the year, and of course homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Here is my take on a summer favorite in our household, homemade peach pie. I use fresh ginger and spices to give this pie an extra kick that my family loves… homemade peach pie, enjoy!

* = organic/non-gmo
^ = local

Homemade Peach Pie
375 degrees (f) 45-60 minutes bake time

1 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar *
1/2 cup butter or lard or tallow, chilled, cut into pieces *^
4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or vodka, chilled

In a food processor with dough blade or stand mixer with a dough hook add flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix till the flour turns into a crumbling texture. In a measuring cup add vinegar to water and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to get the water ice-cold. Remove the water from the freezer (do not let it freeze). With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour/drizzle the water into the flour/butter mixture until the dough barely holds together when pinched. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in 1/2, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes or overnight.
homemade peach pie

5 cups fresh peaches, skinned/pitted/sliced **quick peeling method listed below** *^
Juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
1 cup sugar *
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon *
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped *
1/4 cup flour *
2 tablespoons butter – used for topping before top crust is added *
1 tablespoon sugar – used for topping crust before baking *
1 tablespoon cream + 1 egg white – used to brush top crust before baking *^

In a bowl mix peach slices, sugar, flour, spice, and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough.

Make a small slit in the bottom of each peach and drop into a pot of near boiling water for 30 – 45 seconds. Remove peaches from the hot water and immediately drop into an ice bath. The more ripe the peach, the skin should slide right off. From here you can de-pit and slice.

Remove one of the balls of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Keep lifting up the dough and turning it a quarter turn as you roll, rolling from the center of the dough outwards to ensure equal thickness around the circle. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Remove the excess dough by pinching it down along the edge of the pan. Remove the peach filling from the refrigerator…
homemade peach pie

Place pie filling into pie shell and top with butter.
homemade peach pie

Remove the 2nd ball of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough same as before.
Cut dough in 1/2 inch wide strips.
homemade peach pie

Begin by laying horizontal strips, 1/2 inch apart, across the top of the pie. Then take one vertical strip at a time, laying over/under, creating a braided pattern. You will have to carefully lift each horizontal strip as you braid in the vertical. There will be roughly 5-6 strips of dough horizontal and 5-6 strips of dough vertical. Remove excess dough by pinching off the edges.
homemade peach pie

With the remaining dough, roll out 2 separate strips of dough to cover the pinched edges. Create a “worm”, with your fingers, roll the dough from the center out. Creating a 12 inch long thin roll that will go around the edge of the pie plate, covering the pinched edges. With your pinky finger, create an indent every 1/4 inch for a simple decorative edge.
homemade peach pie

homemade peach pie

With a silicone basting brush (BPA free, leaves no stray strands), brush the entire pie with a thin layer (no puddles) of cream/egg white to create a shiny deep color to the crust after baking. For a deeper shine, add a sprinkle of sugar after basting.
homemade peach pie

Your pie is now ready for the oven. To avoid spill over, place the pie on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or tin foil). Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. If the edges of the crust are getting too dark before cooking time is up, cover with pieces of tin foil.
homemade peach pie

Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a heaping scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream… enjoy your fresh baked homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookie? Crisp or chewy, filled with gooey chocolate chips; I think the chocolate chip cookie is my favorite cookie of all time! I remember it most out of any cookie I made with my grandmother as a child. There didn’t have to be a special occasion to make chocolate chip cookies. I LOVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!

Then my world of chocolate chip cookies was turned upside down when I read a post from a fellow foodies, homesteading, blogging friend who made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. So now you’ve combined the moist sweet goodness of fresh sugar pumpkin to the chocolaty goodness of a chocolate chip cookie… I say WINNER WINNER Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies! My husband was a skeptic… 4 cookies later with a big glass of milk and he was a believer.

In my typical fashion I decided to change the original recipe, just a bit. Below is my version of the following Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. I have what is called functional decorations. For the fall and winter holidays I had several sugar pumpkins as decor in & out of the house. Now that the holidays have come to an end, I’m in process of baking, roasting, pureeing, and freezing the sugar pumpkins for later use. What better way to use some of those sugar pumpkins than in Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Thanks to Unpaved Roads for bringing this to my attention… I’ve got a new cookie to add to my holiday cookie arsenal!

* = organic
^ = local

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
375 (f) degrees, 10-12 minutes, yield 2-3 dozen depending on scoop size…

2 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons flax seed meal * (optional)
1 egg *^
1 cup fresh sugar pumpkin puree *^
1/2 cup butter *
1/2 cup tallow *^ (you can omit this & use all butter)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar *
3/4 cup brown sugar *
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Step 1: In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients (i.e. flour, baking powder/soda, salt, flax seed, and spices) and set aside. In a mixer cream together butter and tallow. Next cream in sugars, vanilla, pumpkin, and egg. Once ingredients are incorporated – not over mixed, slowly add in the flour on your mixer’s slowest setting till all flour is incorporated. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips and you are ready to bake.

Step 2: Prepare a cookie tray with a sheet of parchment paper. The size of the cookie is up to you, but keep in mind the larger the scoop… the longer the cooking time otherwise the cookie will remain uncooked in the center. Place a heaping spoonful onto the tray keeping a 1 inch space between each cookie. Place the cookie tray in a pre-heated 375 (f) degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes depending on cookie size, elevation, and how your oven works.
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Step 3: Once cooking time has expired, immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack. You can store them in an airtight container in a cool dry location. In our house, these cookies lasted three days so storage was not an issue… but I wouldn’t keep them longer than a week given fresh eggs, butter, tallow and pumpkin were used.

The pumpkin chocolate chip cookies have a ‘cake-like’ consistency because of the baking powder used. I was given the suggestion to use oatmeal to give the cookie a different texture, which I will try and share. Now it’s time to enjoy your Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Happy baking and more importantly happy eating!

Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers

When I hear the word graham cracker the first thoughts that come to mind are smores, cheesecake with a graham crust, or my favorite as a child, grahams topped with honey & served with a warm beverage. Now that I have a kiddo of my own, I think of messy, sticky graham cracker faces as they munch them down with delight. Instead of my typical quote on the subject of homemade graham crackers, I found a sweet poem describing such a scene, with sticky graham cracker kisses.

I’ve noticed a common scene at parks, play gyms, and other kiddo gathering spots… ever flowing snacks. The kids are grazers. They run, play, snack, run, play, snack, and so forth. Many of the snacks I see frequenting these places are processed, pre-packaged gummy fruits, chips, crackers, cookies, dried fruits, yogurt covered goodies, and most of all graham crackers. I know my son will want what he sees from other children.  I’ve got to do my best to provide him comparable snacks that I can feel good about him eating.  I look to the ingredients on the back of the box. I say to myself… I CAN MAKE THESE… I can make homemade graham crackers! I’m off to the interwebs to find a version I can work with, that he’ll like, and I can feel good about giving to my family.

After much searching, the ingredients from various recipes looked to be the same; flour, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. I could make this work! The best version I’ve found so far is from smitten kitchen. I’ve used her guidance through measurements and technique but I’ve made minor adjustments to the ingredients.

After a few tests with all butter, all tallow, all buttermilk, all cream, honey vs. agave vs. molasses this version is the winner. Like most recipes, it’s up for interpretation. The thicker the roll on the dough, the more cookie like your graham will be. You also have the option of having shape fun with this dough, using any type of cookie cutter shape.

No more are the days of store-bought grahams… only homemade graham crackers from here. I can’t wait to enjoy smores on these bad boys… but until then, we’ll enjoy them as a quick snack on the go!

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Graham Crackers
350 (f) degrees for 8 minutes / 24+ grahams

2 cups graham flour * (can be replaced with all-purpose or whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour *
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chia or flax seeds * (optional)
6 tablespoons butter, chilled *
3/4 cup brown sugar *
1/3 cup raw local honey ^ (you can also use molasses or maple syrup)
5 tablespoons cream *^
2 tablespoons vanilla *
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar * (optional for topping)

homemade graham crackers

homemade graham crackers

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 (f) degrees. In a food processor or stand mixer combine flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, flax/chia seed (optional), cinnamon, and butter. Process until you have a fine crumble. While the food processor or mixer is still running, add in vanilla, honey, and cream. Do not over process. Stop the machine as soon as the dough comes together.

Step 2: Form a ball, place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
homemade graham crackers

Step 3: Take your dough out of the refrigerator and rest for 5 minutes before rolling. Prepare a lightly floured surface and rolling-pin. Roll dough out on floured surface, 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick.
homemade graham crackers

Step 4: Dab your cookie cutter device into flour and then cut out your graham shapes, transferring each shape to an ungreased cookie sheet. Keep each cookie at least an inch apart on the cookie sheet. The thicker you roll the dough the chewier your cookie will be. You can take this time to decorate your cookie with some fork pricks for the ‘traditional’ graham look. Place in a pre-heated 350 (f) degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes (the longer cooking time will result in a crisper cookie).
homemade graham crackers

NOTE: You will have leftover dough as you cut out the crackers.  Don’t waste!  You can gather all of the scraps, reform a ball, and roll & cut some more.  In the end, if you use all of your scraps, you will have used about 99% of the dough… no waste and lots of delicious graham crackers!

homemade graham crackers

Step 5: When cooking time has expired, remove grahams from the oven and let rest for a minute before removing them from the cookie tray. Optional, you can sprinkle a light amount of sugar (organic) on the top before removing for the cooling rack. After a minute transfer your grahams to a cooling rack. Enjoy your homemade graham crackers!
homemade graham crackers

homemade graham crackers

Homemade Applesauce – No Sugar Needed

Homemade Applesauce

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

There is a medium-sized apple tree in my grandmother’s backyard. As far back as I can remember when the leaves began to turn, the apples would fall and she would make homemade applesauce and other apple goodies to eat. The apples were small with a bright green skin and tart in flavor. The tree itself brings back many memories. Each year, when the tree was ready for pruning her sister & husband would drive down to my grandmother’s house for a day of visiting, eating, and yard work. They arrived with goodies from their backyard; zucchini, end of season tomatoes, lemons, eggs from their chickens, and fresh-baked cookies. The ladies would visit while Tito would prune the apple tree. I also remember when my grandmother would have to “shoo shoo” the squirrels away as they ripped apples from the tree, taking only small bites and leaving the rest to rot into the ground. This made grandma furious; she’d curse the squirrels every time her batch of homemade applesauce was smaller than the previous year.

Local Organic Apples Pinnacle Organic

Since we’ve lived in this community, we have been buying organic apples. We purchase the apples from a local organic produce farmstand in San Juan Bautista, Pinnacle Organics. We believe buying local keeps the money you spent in the community, we know exactly where our food came from, and we’re cutting out the middleman often reducing the cost. I started buying boxes of apples weekly and inquired on my grandmother’s tried & trued homemade applesauce recipe; apples, apple juice, cinnamon, and maybe just maybe a little brown sugar. After a few tries I came up with my version, same but different.

I was joining my grandmother and her sister, who was visiting from Mexico, for an early afternoon lunch. When my grandmother has visitors she pulls out several varieties of food, snacks, and goodies she’s made. Typically her homemade applesauce would have been donned the table, but this year her tree’s production was extremely small. I was aware of grandma’s homemade applesauce challenge, so I brought a couple of jars of my own freshly made homemade applesauce to share with the ladies. “Hmmm, this is better than yours Dolly…” Tita never holds back… needless to say I felt a little bad for my grandma. Her homemade applesauce has been the star for years. Despite feeling bad I know I’ve learned from the best, my grandma, and that’s why my homemade applesauce is so freakin’ good!

Getting ready to peel, core, and slice apples

This year, I’ve already had the opportunity to go through several boxes of apples and the season has only begun. There are so many apple cooking options such as baked apples, chutney, pies, tarts, and salads to name a few. The family seems to be fans of the homemade applesauce, so each year can it like crazy so we have enough for the year. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve made. The time-consuming task lies only within the peeling, coring, and chopping. One Thanksgiving holiday my mother-in-law came over early to help in the food preparation and saw I was tediously peeling a sink full of apples, hands hurting while slumped over the kitchen counter. Christmas time arrived and she gifted me the best gift ever… an apple peeler, corer, chopper. The device looks medieval but it’s simple, easy to clean and does the job within minute’s verses hours.

My version has no added sugar; only apples, 100% juice from apples (I purchase the juice directly from the farmstand), and a mix of spices. After a long simmer the sauce remains chunky and is ready to enjoy! I’ve had people compare the applesauce to an apple pie filling… it’s that yummy.

Apple peeling, coring, and slicing in process.

Homemade Applesauce
5 Quart Sauté Pan
22 – 26 apples, depending on size (Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn, and Jonagold varieties)
16 – 24oz apple juice, enough juice to cover ½ of the apples in the pan (Pinnacle Organic juice is 100% organic apple juice, no sugar added)
¼ – ½ Teaspoon of each ground spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice

Peel, core, and chop apples. Place the sliced apples in your cooking vessel; I use a 5 quart sauté pan because it’s a wide pan with high sides. This allows for the apples to spread out and cook evenly. Sprinkle over your apples the spice mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
Local organic apples, apple juice, and spice

Pour enough apple juice over the mixture till the liquid covers the apples half way. Toss the apple slices to make sure the spices are mixed. Cook on medium high till the liquid comes to a boil, stirring often. Once it’s reached a boil, lower the temperature to medium or medium low heat for roughly two hours, stirring occassionally.

The cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of your apples. I prefer my apple sauce slightly chunky – you can cook it longer for a smoother texture or even use an emulsion mixture to puree. Most the liquid will be reduced or gone by the time your apple sauce is complete.
Homemade Applesauce

The quantities for this recipe allow for 8 – 12 pint jars to be filled, again depending on the size of the apples.

The best thing about this recipe is that the amounts can vary greatly; it all depends on your taste preferences. You can make this recipe with as little as five apples; just follow the basic instructions ensuring the amount of apples you use is covered half way with juice. The spice amounts can vary according to your taste.

Your applesauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, canned will last all year, and in the freezer for roughly six months.
Homemade Applesauce cannded

Original post written on November 2nd, 2011 by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet at site: