Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SEEDS AND CRANBERRY ENERGY BARS


Just for fun .. a valentine energy bar!


Plain or spread melted chocolate on the tops .. or bottoms.


I love nuts and seeds and craisins .. 
the addition of puffed cereal is the needed tenderness paired with the crunch.


Most of the mix was packed into a baking pan but since it is
February and the week of Valentine, I turned some into heart shapes,
with the help of heart-shaped baking molds.


I happened to have a cookie cutter in the exact size of the foil shape.
I placed the foil inside the metal form and was able to pack it
solidly to form the perfect heart shape.


Delicious and nutritious!

SEEDS AND CRANBERRY ENERGY BARS

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 cups puffed rice cereal
(I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Honey Puffs)
½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1 tbsp. chai seeds

Spread almonds, oats, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes.
Transfer mixture into a large bowl, lightly greased with butter.
Stir in cereal, dried cranberries and chai seeds.

2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscovado
½ cup honey
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, honey and oil to a boil over medium heat.
Simmer until sugar is dissolved until a light brown caramel, about 5 minutes.
Remove heat and stir in vanilla.
Drizzle the caramel over the seeds and oat mixture, stirring until evenly coated.
Pack into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper.
Cover with another sheet of parchment and press down evenly.
Let stand until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
Cut into bars and enjoy!
  To store, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and place
in air-tight container.  




Sunday, February 9, 2014

A FOREVER FEAST, PERSEVERANCE


Something has caused this gathering of contrasts.
Never do they congregate in my yard without a purpose.


Tracks abound with signs of visitors even though
most days the tray sits empty in the snow. 


Ever watchful, the eyes of the black-billed magpie are constantly peering.
It pays to check and today there is a reward for perseverance.


What began as a light strawberry cake with a fluffy pudding
topping proved to fail the human excellency test.
It is not that I need to feel sorry for these birds, on the contrary
they seem undaunted by storm or wind or freeze.


With gratifying emotion I watch the crumb-diminishing ritual.
One comes, scoops out and flies off to a branch to enjoy his morsel
in private.  Another is waiting on its heels .. or is it wings?


Not a crumb is overlooked.


Their raucous aggressive behavior used to annoy me especially when
they did their utmost to empty the suet feeder.
But my appreciation for these beautiful birds has grown especially during
the winter months when I see how they continue to thrive in most adverse weather
conditions. Their coats shine and they exude energy that amazes me.
So yes, I deliberately save throw-away crumbs that I know
will bring them in sight of my windows.
I have to be very careful though because the first glimpse of me and they are gone.
A very clever bird is that magpie!

Perseverance is possible as long as we 
remain convinced that God is at work ......
changing people, changing out circumstances, and changing us.

And let us not get tired of doing what is right,
for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing
if we don't get discouraged and give up.
Galatians 6:9 LB



Saturday, February 8, 2014

VALENTINE WINDOWS


You are invited to a Valentine tea!


When I was planning to make these cookies I got all excited thinking
about the end product.  Nutella and raspberry jam sandwiched inside
a flaky crust .. wow!  You imagine what they will look like and at the
moment they come out of the oven, you relax and smile.


I had not tried this before so I did not know if the filling
would stay neatly tucked inside.
It did and the cookies are everything I dreamed 
they would be.


The dough is simple to make and easy to work with.
Notice that I rolled it out quite thin because I didn't
want a bulky cookie.


Here are the steps .. leave half the cookies whole, cut a small
heart out of the other half.  Spread filling on whole cookie, spread egg wash
on cut-out cookie and place egg-side down on top of filling.
Seal around very outer edge with fork.  A child's fork is ideal.


Spread Nutella filling on first making sure to stay inside the edge.
Top with raspberry jam.  This step does not need to be perfect.


Perfection happens when the tops are in place and the edges sealed.


After cookies are cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle
with a thin powdered sugar icing.



VALENTINE WINDOWS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
6 tablespoons butter

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in butter until mixture
resembles coarse crumbs. ( I use a food processor)

3/4 tsp. dry yeast
1½ tablespoons warm water
½ tsp. sugar 
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sour cream
½ tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar.
Whisk together egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla.
Add yeast and egg mixture to dry ingredients, blending together
to form a dough. If necessary, add ice water, one teaspoon at a time
to form dough that can be rolled.

Nutella
raspberry jam, seedless
1 egg yolk whisked together with 1 tsp. water

On a work surface coated with powdered sugar. roll out dough to
about 1/8 -inch thickness.
Cut dough with heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Cut smaller heart-shape out of half of the cookies.
Spread whole cookies with heaping tsp. Nutella leaving the outer edge plain.
Top Nutella with scant tsp. raspberry jam.
Brush cut-out cookie with egg wash, place over filling,egg-wash-side down.
Seal edges with the tines of a small fork.
Brush cookie with egg wash.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Transfer to cooling rack.
To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with thin icing.
(Thin icing: 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 tbsp. milk)
Yield: 15 Valentine cookies


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SOFT SUGAR COOKIES


Too pretty to eat ... no ... lovely with a cup of tea.
I like a crisp sugar cookie but I also like the soft kind.
My daughter thought these were very delicious.


The dough is a simple mixture of dry and wet ingredients.
Keep in mind this dough needs overnight refrigeration which
I find convenient because I can make them in two time slots.


Roll out, cut and bake.


For these I chose to spread the frosting then out line
the cookies with a star tip .. simple yet stunning.


Shuffling love across the miles ...
I had the opportunity to have a sampling of these love offerings
hand delivered to my granddaughters.
It was a good thing!!


SOFT SUGAR COOKIES

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined.  Add sour cream, beating
on low until incorporated.

2¼ cups all-purpose flour plus ¼ cup
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Blend 2¼ cups flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add to creamed mixture just until combined.
Add enough remaining flour, a tablespoon at a time, to obtain the right
consistency for rolling.  Keep dough soft but not sticky.
Flatten dough into a square about 1-inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and
refrigerate overnight.

Next day: roll dough ¼ -inch thick on a floured surface.
Cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter; place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until light
brown on edge.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.
When cool, spread with frosting and add a piped decoration or use sprinkles.
When frosting is set, store in air-tight container or freeze.
Yield: approx. 30 heart cookies, 3-inch size

FROSTING:  ½ cup butter, softened
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream butter and vanilla together; gradually beat in powdered sugar.
Add heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until consistency is right for spreading.
Tint with pink food coloring if desired.