Monday, October 31, 2011

Creamy Lavender Scones

I have become a great fan of cooking with lavender.  It gives a pleasant exotic flavor to foods. 

The flowers are what are used primarily in cooking.  When cooking with lavender be sure you use culinary lavender.
In coming up with a recipe for lavender scones, I started out  using a little lavender and then adding more with each recipe iteration. Too much lavender can be overpowering.

                                            Creamy Lavender Scones


2 cups all purpose flour
1/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
Flour Mixture
2.Whisk together in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture.  Incorporate the butter into the flour mixture with your hands.  There will be different shapes of butter, some will be pea sized other cornflake size.
Butter Incorporated into the Flour 

3. Beat together the egg and heavy cream in a small mixing bowl.
4.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.  Combine with a fork until evenly moistened.
5. Add the lemon zest and lavender and stir until combined.
6.Gather the dough into a ball, a while still in the bowl, gently knead the dough 8-10 strokes.
7. Drop the dough by a ¼ cup full onto the parchment paper line baking sheet.  Space the scones about 2 inches apart.
8. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the scones are golden and firm to the touch.  Cool for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.
9.  Store in an airtight container.

Serves 9

Egg and Cream Beaten  Together

Well Combined Dough

Ready for Oven

Creamy Lavender Scone

Friday, October 28, 2011

Maple Syrup: A Sweet Delight

Maple Syrup
Fall seems to be the time I use maple syrup the most for  my cooking and baking.  I love the smell and taste of this delicious liquid.

Maple syrup was first used by the American Indians for both food and medicine.  When settlers came to North America they liked the delicious sweetness of the syrup. Maple syrup was the main sweetener used by the colonists.

Maple Syrup has health benefits too.  It is an excellent source of manganese and zinc.  The trace mineral manganese is an essential co factor in some enzymes in energy production and antioxidant defenses.  The zinc supplied in maple syrup not only acts as an antioxidant, it can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis.  Zinc and manganese are important allies in the immune system.

Different Grades of Maple Syrup

The quality of maple syrup varies in characteristics such as color, taste, and consistency.  In the United States, maple syrup is graded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  There are three versions of Grade A maple syrup.

Grade A                                           Flavor
Light Amber                                     Delicate
Medium Amber                                Mild
Dark Amber                                      Full Bodied

Grade B;  This grade has the most pronounced taste.  It has a hearty, robust, flavor. It is usually reserved for cooking and using in processed foods.

Canada rates their  maple syrup similarly.

Number 1: Extra light(AA), light(A), medium(B)
Number 2: Amber(C)
Number 3: Dark(D)

The shelf life of maple syrup unopened is once year. Once you open maple syrup, refrigerate the syrup.  The shelf life of opened refrigerated syrup is 6 months.  If mold appears in the syrup, even if just on the surface throw it away.

Quick uses for maple syrup:

1.  Use it as a sweetener for your coffee
2.  Pour maple syrup on your oatmeal
3.  Add it to pureed sweet potatoes
4.  Pour it on pancakes, waffles, french toast.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1+1+1= Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip

I was so excited when I found Pumpkin Spice pudding mix in the store.  I found it in the area where they put holiday cooking items you may need.  Ideas went racing through my mind on what I could make with the pudding mix.  My son took advantage of my deep thinking moment and put some junk food in the cart which I discovered at the  check out.

Well, back to my thoughts on the use of the pudding mix. I could use it in breads, cake, by itself as a quick dessert, substitute it for the pistachio pudding in my Pistachio Tart Recipe (December 13, 2010 blog posting), and finally make a fruit dip with it.

And that is what I did.  I made fruit dip.   All you need is three simple ingredients and you have yourself a great tasting dip for the fruit of your choice. If you wish, you can decorate the top of the dip with sprinkles or chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, whatever you wish. My kids decided on the autumn sprinkles I had in my pantry to use for decorating.

                                              Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip

1 (3.4 oz) package of Pumpkin Spice instant pudding
1 -cup whole milk
1-cup plain Greek yogurt
Sprinkles for decoration (optional)


1. Whisk together the pudding mix and milk in a medium-mixing bowl.
2. Add the Greek yogurt and stir until well combined.
3. Spoon pudding into a serving bowl, or individual cups and decorate with sprinkles of your choice.
4. Refrigerate any left over dip.
Kids Choice of Decor

Note:  If the dip is too thick for your liking, thin it with some milk.

Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip
Makes approximately 2 cups of dip

Monday, October 24, 2011

Peanut Butter + Pumpkin Butter = One Great Sandwich

Today, for lunch I am going to make a  special treat.  Instead of PB &J,  I am making PB&PB - Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter sandwiches.    Pumpkin Butter has been referred to as Pumpkin Pie in a jar.  I could not describe the taste  better.  It is a  rich, spicy,  spread I could eat straight from the jar but I resist.

These delicious sandwiches would be great for fall parties.  My daughter is having a Fall Tea, and I thought I would get creative.  I plan on cutting out sandwich designs with cookie cutters or sandwich cutters.
For lunches or snacks, you can just trim off the crust and cut the sandwich into quarters.

No matter how you slice it, these sandwiches are delicious.

                                      Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches


2 slices of bread of your choice
Peanut Butter
Pumpkin Butter


1. Spread the Peanut Butter on a slice of bread.
2. Spread the Pumpkin Butter on the other slice.
3. Place the butter sides together and slice.


Makes 1 sandwich

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn Harvest Cake

This cake is my favorite to make during autumn.  It has my favorite flavors of the season, pumpkin, apple, cranberry,  and maple syrup.  It is a moist and flavorful cake that has a hint of spices.  I usually do not frost this cake.  I brush the top, after baking, with maple syrup and serve it with whipped topping.

                                               Autumn Harvest Cake


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1- teaspoon baking powder
½- teaspoon baking soda
¼- teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3-cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 beaten egg
½ cup pure maple syrup
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
½ cup dried cranberries
Maple Syrup
Whipped Topping


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray an 8x8- inch-baking pan with cooking spry.  Set aside.
3. Whisk together in a medium bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Set aside.
4. Stir together the oil and the sugar in a medium bowl until well combined.  Add the egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin.  Stir until well mixed.
5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
6. Fold in the chopped apple, orange zest, and dried cranberries.
7.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
8.  Remove the cake from the oven and brush the top with maple syrup.
9. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped topping.

Serves 8

Note: I make this cake every Thanksgiving.  Some guests do not like pie, so I make them cake.


Dry Works

Wet Works

Wet & Dry Combined

Apples, Orange Zest and Cranberries Folded In

Ready for Oven

Tasty Result

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Relaxing Chai

There are some days when sitting down with a nice cup of Chai is the greatest.  It is so soothing and relaxing.  In this recipe I use Earl Grey tea which has a light refreshing flavor that comes from the oil of Bergamot.  Bergamot is a small acidic orange. Coupled with the blend of warm and sweet spices, you have a delicious cup of chai.

Earl Grey Tea, Spices, Lemon, Condensed Milk

After Simmering the Spices and Tea Steeping


                                              Relaxing Chai


4 cups water
Grated lemon zest from one lemon
16 whole cardamom pods
12 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
1 star anise
4 teaspoons Earl Grey tea or 4 teabags
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk


1. Place in a 3-quart saucepan the water, lemon zest, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cloves and star anise.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2.  Bring back to a full boil and stir in tea.  Remove heat, cover and let tea steep for 5 minutes.
3.  Strain tea into a teapot.  Stir in condensed milk.
4.  Serve in individual cups.  Pass around extra sugar if needed.

Serves 6

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pork Chile Verde

 I found this recipe for Pork Verde in "Bon Appetit," With a little tweaking in the ingredients and the directions it is the best recipe for Pork Chile Verde I have ever tasted.  Nothing is more soothing to me than eating a bowl of Chile Verde with a warmed flour tortilla.

 I make it in the morning and let it simmer for 3 1/2 hours.  Any leftovers, I refrigerate and eat for lunch the next day.


Pork Chile Verde
From Bon Appetit

1 (2.5 to 3.0 pound) boneless pork sirloin roast trimmed and cut into 1 1/2- inch cubes
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
1 large onion coarsely chopped
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and cut into quarters
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
3 cups (or more) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 bunch of green onions, coarsely chopped (all of the white and 2 inches of the green)
3/4  cup diced roasted green chilies (be sure to peel and seed) if not using canned
2 1/2  teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
Flour tortillas

1. Brush the bottom of a  large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Sprinkle the pork cubes with salt and pepper.  Brown the meat in batches.  Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the skillet if needed.
2. Place the onion in the skillet and saute until soft .
3. Add the  tomatillos and garlic to the skillet.  Sprinkle the cumin seeds over the mixture.  Cook until the tomatillos are tender and browned in spots stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat if tomatillos are browning too quickly.
4.  Remove the tomatillos from the heat.  Cool slightly.
5.  Puree the tomatillo mixture in a blender in batches adding chicken broth as needed.  Transfer puree tomatillo mixture to a Dutch Oven.
6. Puree the cilantro leaves, green onions, and green chili - again using chicken broth as needed.  Transfer puree mixture to the Dutch Oven with the tomatillos.
7. Add the remaining chicken broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt,  Mexican Oregano,  black pepper and pork to the Dutch oven.  Stir until well combined.
8. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for  3 hours stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid of the Dutch Oven during the last hour for  a thicker sauce.
9. Add the potatoes to the Chili Verde.  Simmer covered until the potatoes are tender.
10. Taste and add remaining salt if needed.
11. Serve in bowls  accompanied with warm flour tortillas.

Serves 8

Note:  If your sauce gets too thick just add chicken broth.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn Crunch Snack Mix

This snack mix has some of my favorite tastes of fall -  apple cider, maple syrup, candy corn, and dried cranberries.  I make it for snacking, lunches, fall parties, movie nights,  just about anytime.  It has a sweet crisp flavor with a hint of apple.

                                           Autumn Crunch Snack Mix


2 cups Wheat Chex
2 cups Corn Chex
2 cups stick pretzels
1-cup corn nuts
1- cup mixed nuts
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 package (.74 ounce) Spiced Apple Cider Mix
¼ cup maple syrup
1-cup candy corn
1- cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.
3. Toss together the Wheat Chex, Corn Chex, stick pretzels, corn nuts, and mixed nuts in a large mixing bow.   Set aside.
4. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Once butter has melted, stir in the brown sugar, Spiced Cider Mix, and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil.
5. Boil the syrup mixture for 3 minutes (4 minutes for high altitude) stirring frequently.
6. Pour the syrup gradually over the Chex mixture stirring until the mix is well coated.
7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
8. Bake for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.
9. Remove mix from oven and let cool.
10. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the candy corn and dried cranberries.
11.  Store in an airtight container.


Ingredients Mixed-Up

Ready for the Oven

Out of the Oven

Ready to Enjoy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Up, Up, and Away

On Sunday, the family woke up really early to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  We had a great time seeing all the beutiful balloons in the sky and enjoying the pleasant New Mexico fall weather. I decided to take a day off on posting about food, and post some pictures of the Balloon Fiesta for your enjoyment.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn = Hot Apple Cider Time

Autumn is here and that means it is time for hot apple cider.  This is a family favorite drink on crisp autumn days/nights.  After the first servings, I  keep the cider warm  in a carafe.  This way we can help ourselves to it whenever we want.

Hot Maple Apple Cider


1 orange
10 whole cloves
1- (64 ounce) bottle apple cider
1 ginger tea bag
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
1/3-cup pure maple syrup
Whipped cream
Ground nutmeg


1. Stud the orange with the whole cloves.  Set aside.
2. Pour the apple cider into a large stockpot.  Add the orange, ginger tea bag, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
3.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 60 minutes.
4. Remove the cider from the heat and add the maple syrup.  Stir until the syrup is dissolved.  Taste and add more syrup if needed.
5.  Ladle the cider into mugs and top with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.

Makes 8 servings


Ready to Simmer

Hot Maple Apple Cider

Friday, October 7, 2011

National Noodle Day Celebration: Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
Yesterday, was National Noodle Day.  How did you celebrate?  I made a big pot of Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner.  I used Kluski noodles in my soup.  I also put in carrots, celery, onions, garlic, dried parsley flakes, and  other seasonings.  Mmmm -Good Eats.

                              Chicken Noodle Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely diced onion
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 cup sliced carrots
½ cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (8 ounce) package Kluski noodles*
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.  Add onion and cook until translucent.
2.  Add garlic and cook  two minutes.
3.  Add the chicken broth, chicken, carrots, celery, bay leaf, dried parsley flakes, salt and pepper to the stockpot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4.  Cook Kluski noodles according to package directions while the soup is simmering.
5.  Add the noodles to the soup and cook 10 more minutes.  Remove from heat.
6. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
7. Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls.

Makes 8 servings.

*If you cannot find Kluski noodles use egg noodles.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread
I just made some Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread.  Was it ever good!  Who would have believed refrigerator biscuits could make a such a tasty treat.

Refrigerator biscuits are the base for this bread.  I cut  the biscuits into quarters, shake them in in sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice mixture, stack them in a Bundt pan, and pour a delicious butter, maple syrup, and of course pumpkin sauce over the biscuits. I bake for 20 minutes, cool, and serve.

This is a quick and easy dish to make for breakfast, brunch, potlucks, family/friend get togethers.

                                              Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1-cup sugar
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 (7.5 ounce) cans of biscuits
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray.  Arrange the walnuts in the bottom of the pan.   Set aside.
3.  Put the sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice in a Ziploc bag.  Shake until well mixed.
4. Cut each biscuit into fourths.  Place a small amount of the cut biscuits into the Ziploc bag and shake until well coated.
5.  Put the cut biscuit quarters on top of the walnuts and continue layering evenly until all the quarters have been used.
6.  Stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, and maple syrup until well mixed.
7.  Pour the mixture over the biscuits.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
8.  Remove from oven.  Cool for 5 minutes.
9. Place a serving dish or plate over the Bundt pan and invert.  Let the bread cool before eating.

Serves 8-10


Walnuts in Bottom of Bundt Pan

Biscuit Quarters With Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice

Biscuit Quarters Arranged in Bundt Pan

Pumpkin Sauce

Ready For The Oven

Fresh Out-Of-The-Oven