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Ingredient: sugar

Maple Walnut Pound Cake

Maple Walnut Pound Cake

Maple Walnut Pound Cake

It’s maple season again. Our friends at Chandler’s Sugar Shack in Kossuth are tapping 4,000+ trees this year. It wasn’t that long ago that they started out with less than 200 and now here they are with a sugar “shack” the square footage (or more) of our house and thousands of thousands…and thousands of taps. I decided to use some of our syrup to make Maple Walnut Pound Cake. Oh my gosh. It’s just enough maple flavor without being overwhelming, and not too sweet.

If it lasts more than a few days, pound cake loses its quality. By day four or five I didn’t want another slice but didn’t want it to go to waste. I turned the rest of the pound cake into one-inch slices, dipped it in an egg and milk mixture, and made Maple Walnut Pound Cake French Toast. That’s a mouthful – literally and figuratively. It was delicious!

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Maple glaze, maple walnut pound cake, maple syrup recipes, Chandler's Sugar Shack
maple glaze recipe, maple walnut pound cake, maple walnut, maple syrup recipes
Maple Glaze

I wanted a nice glaze on the pound cake and wanted to use maple syrup. I think this turned out well! This would be great as a glaze on cookies, over cupcakes or as a substitute for maple syrup on pancakes and waffles.

Substitute for Cake Flour

If you don’t have cake flour in the pantry (I didn’t) you can make your own. Measure one level cup of all-purpose flour. Remove two level tablespoons of flour and replace it with two level tablespoons of corn starch. Corn starch lowers the protein level of the flour. Protein turns to gluten, and gluten is what makes breads chewy. A little less protein is a little less gluten and that makes the flour lighter.

Cake flour is around 8% protein. All-purpose flour is around 10% protein.

And now you know! Really, it’s the simple things in the kitchen that delight me the most.

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Eggnog Cookies with Creamy Frosting

Eggnog Cookies with Creamy Frosting

Eggnog Cookies with Creamy Eggnog Frosting

Growing up, Christmas was about food, visiting family, food, presents, food, and food. Mum spent days baking and making candy. The dining room table, so big it seated eight easily and ten if we squeezed together, was covered with sugary treats. I carried that tradition on for decades. Now, with a waistline I have to keep a very close eye on and only two of us in the house, I seldom bake sweets. Or…I did until I realized I can bake, have a few cookies or whatever it is I’ve created, and send the rest to work with Steve. Winning! Eggnog Cookies have been on my “I’m going to make that next year” list for a long time. I finally made them this week and now I’m kicking myself for waiting for so long.

eggnog cookies, eggnog frostingThe eggnog cookies recipe I started with came from Pinterest. Looking at the ingredients and amounts, I knew I wasn’t going to love the cookies. I made adjustments twice and came up with a recipe so good I can’t stay out of the cookie jar. I packed them up and sent them to work with Steve this morning.

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Hot Pepper Wine Jelly – Appetizers

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly – Appetizers

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly, also know as Christmas Jelly because of it’s beautiful red and green peppers, is my favorite holiday party appetizer. It’s also my favorite Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and curled up on the couch watching a movie during a nor’easter appetizer. The zing from the peppers combined with the sweet sugar and the richness of sour cream is awesome.

hot pepper wine jelly, appetizers, hot peppers, cream cheese, dip, recipe

How Hot?

You can adjust the heat level with your choice of hot pepper. Heat is rated with the Scoville Heat Scale. I personally wouldn’t go higher than Jalepeno because I’m a heat wimp. If you’re using this recipe for a party appetizer I suggest putting a small sign in front of the serving bowl so everyone knows it has some degree of heat. I haven’t made this jelly without hot peppers. If you have I’d love to know how it tastes.

  • Bell peppers
  • 1,000 to 2,000 Poblano and Ancho
  • 2,000 to 5,000 Jalepeno
  • 100,000 – 350,000  Habenero

I make this jelly in late summer and hot water bath can it. To make and serve as an appetizer in the next couple of weeks you don’t need to can it. I still ladle it into pint canning jars and cover it with a canning lid and ring. The lid will seal but the jars should be stored in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions for Hot Pepper Wine Jelly

This recipe makes two pints. I use one pint for an eight ounce block of cream cheese. Place the cream cheese on a wide plate and scoop the jelly over it. Ritz type crackers are my favorite flavor of cracker to serve with this jelly but they break easily under the pressure of a knife spreading cream cheese, so be aware of that. A firmer cracker helps keep this convenient as an appetizer in a crowd.

I keep a few dip spreaders on hand to switch out in case jelly gets on them.

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Mincemeat Cookies – Mincemeat and Cookie Recipes

Mincemeat Cookies – Mincemeat and Cookie Recipes

Mincemeat Cookies

Mincemeat cookies? Really? ohh…no, thanks. I don’t really like mincemeat. “You’ll like these,” Erin Merrill said as she nudged the plate across the table a few inches. I resisted for a while. Erin looked from me to the cookies and back again several times, nudging them now and then. “They’re gooood.” Erin’s convincing, and as mom to my favorite little guy, she’s kind of hard to resist.
mincemeat cookies, mincemeat cookie recipe, mincemeat recipe, filled cookie, venison mincemeatShe was right. These cookies are fantastic. There isn’t a lot of mincemeat in this filled cookie so it’s a great recipe for someone who thinks they don’t like mincemeat cookies, or isn’t crazy about mincemeat but doesn’t hate it, to enjoy the cookies. The cookie recipe is Erin’s. The mincemeat recipe is my Mum’s.mincemeat recipe, mincemeat cookie recipe, venison mincemeat, mincemeat cookies

Mincemeat

Mincemeat was made back in the day when refrigeration wasn’t as easy as opening a door on an appliance. Spices were used as a preservative. Mum used basic measurements. The main ingredients are in pounds, the spices in tablespoons. If you want to use a bowl for the measuring container use the same bowl, and adjust the spices to suit the amount of main ingredients.

I store these cookies in the refrigerator because they’re filling so the batch lasts a while. I like to either warm them in the microwave for 10 seconds or leave them on the counter until the reach room temperature.

strong cup of coffee, erin merrilland a strong cup of coffee

Erin writes a blog called …and a strong cup of coffee. What’s it like to hunt from a woman’s point of view? She shares her experiences from learning with her dad to now hunting with Dad and her husband. Erin recommended me for the spot as co-host of On The Fire, and she’s a great friend, outdoorswoman, and financial supporter of this blog. And seriously, she makes excellent mincemeat cookies.

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

Salted caramel apple pie is my new go-to pie for potluck suppers, Thanksgiving dinner, having guests over, and girlfriends’ lunch when it’s my turn to host here on the homestead. Steve takes it to office luncheons.  This pie is rich, sweet and immensely satisfying so you might consider a smaller-than-usual slice. Hahaha…no. Eat the pie. Enjou the pie.

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I am all for kids in the kitchen. Mine started cooking when they were three or four years old. This caramel sauce is not for safe for kids to make. The cold heavy cream hitting the hot syrup will spit and sputter. Adults need long sleeves and oven mitts. Kids need to be away from the stove. They can stir the sauce into the apples when it all cools down and drizzle is over the pie when plating slices. If you want to skip making the caramel sauce you can keep it simple. Go to the store and buy two 12 oz jars of caramel sauce. Warm the sauce and stir in the sea salt. Salted caramel apple pie without salted caramel really isn’t quite right. You will miss the salt in the caramel when you drizzle it over the top crust at serving time.

Apples

I like to use at least two varieties of apples for pie – Honey Crisp and a Winesap. Use what you like best for pies. This recipe is different. You’re going to cook the apples before they go into the crust. You do this so you can mix in the caramel sauce without it flooding the bottom crust. You’ll have no empty air pocket (a result of using apple varieties that aren’t great for baking in traditional apple pie recipes) between the top crust and filling no matter what varieties you use.

salted caramel apple pie, recipe, crust

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – Sweet Seasonal Treat

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – Sweet Seasonal Treat

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I use the recipe for soft pumpkin cookies for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and then use a cream cheese frosting recipe to make the filling for the pies. This filling recipe is very, very sweet. You might want to use almond extract instead of vanilla (did you know that lessens sweet taste?) and eight cups of powered sugar instead of nine. It’s not a huge difference but it does help.

pumpkin whoopie pies, recipe, cream cheese frosting recipe, cream cheese fillingGundy has a great suggestion. Make these for Halloween and double the batch. Freeze leftover whoopie pies for Thanksgiving, and eat frozen. I’m doing it!

And another suggestion – replace the milk in the filling with Bailey’s Irish Cream and make sure the kids don’t get into the adult batch of whoopie pies.

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Pumpkin Pie – Untraditional Recipe, Traditionally Delicious

Pumpkin Pie – Untraditional Recipe, Traditionally Delicious

Pumpkin Pie

This isn’t your mom or nana’s pumpkin pie. Oh sure, they make great pie, no doubt. This pumpkin pie is different. It’s untraditional. What’s an untraditional pumpkin pie, you ask? Yogurt, extra spice, half the traditional amount of sugar, and if you have them, duck eggs. Want to shake up the universe? Okay, not the universe but your pie? Use squash. I’ll pause here while the cheering and head scratching subside. Did you know a lot of commercial canned pumpkin is winter squash? If you don’t tell anyone they probably won’t know the difference.

If you’ve grown or purchased pie pumpkins now’s the time to bake them, remove the flesh from the peel, and use it in this pie! When using commercially canned (I do as soon as our stored pumpkins are gone) you’ll need one can. If it isn’t exactly 16 ounces but it’s close, use it. It’s close enough.

How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin and Squash

You can use any pumpkin but pie varieties are so because they aren’t stringy and tend to be drier. You cook fresh pumpkin by cutting it into quarters or thirds, whatever fits in your pan. If the pumpkin is rock solid you can break it by dragging a kitchen chair out to the road, climbing on the chair and dropping your pumpkin to the pavement. Please have someone take photos and then send them to me to share here. You may send your pie pics as well. I’m not kidding. 🙂

Scrape out the seeds, place in a baking dish with an inch of water, and cover with foil. You can also use the slow cooker. Roast the pumpkin or squash in the oven at 350° for 45 to 60 minutes. A knife slides through easily when the pumpkin is cooked. Scrape flesh from the peel. Simmer the flesh until excess moisture is removed.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

Gluten is a protein found in cereal grains including wheat, the traditional grain used for flour. If you’d like a gluten free option you can simply bake the filling as you would a custard.

Five on Friday!

Garden Fresh Salsa – Garden to Plate in an Hour

Garden Fresh Salsa – Garden to Plate in an Hour

Garden Fresh Salsa

I’m in the kitchen with Taylor this week while we use the seemingly endless supply of tomatoes and hot peppers. We’re using a variety of tomatoes – a plum-shaped volunteer, Luci (round, 6 oz), Juliet, Cherokee Purple and Bobcat, to make garden fresh salsa. The Bell peppers are a big, thick-walled variety called King of the North from Fedco.

German Extra Hardy garlic did very well this year but I had to water it often to keep it growing during the dry summer. This is a fairly mild garlic. If you’re cooking with a stronger variety you might want to change the number of cloves you use to suit your tastes. I’d have a hard time finding a dish with too much garlic for my liking.

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Serving Suggestions

Want to try something new? Add a pint jar of salsa to your chili in place of diced tomatoes. Drain the excess liquid and add a dollop to your burger. Steve likes salsa in Mexican omelets, and I love to mix garden fresh salsa with mayo as a dipping sauce.

salsa, garden fresh salsa

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