Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

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This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

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Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed

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To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.

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Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.

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Spread the filling over the dough.

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Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.

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Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.

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Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.

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Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

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Raspberry Pie and Pumpkin Pie

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Every Thanksgiving I make a raspberry pie because it is both my Dad and my daughter’s favorite.  And I make a pumpkin pie because I happen to like pumpkin pie and because I just think pumpkin pie is mandatory at Thanksgiving.  The pie on the left was amazing!  The pie on the right.  Well that’s another story.  But I need to backtrack a bit to the crust.  A good crust is the secret to a good pie.  The crust recipe I have is from a dear family friend, Peg Johnson.  She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Home Economics.  She has passed away but she lives on in the margins of my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.  Penned on page 230, at the top of the Pastry section, is her recipe for Never Fail Pie Crust.

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Remember this book?  I see it in antique stores all the time.  I got mine as a gift in 1971.  It has a burn mark on the back cover and some of the pages stick totgether but I still use it.

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups AP flour

1 1/4 cups shortening

1 tsp salt

1 egg well beaten

5 T cold water

1 T white vinegar

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Cut the shortening into the flour.  Peg used a pastry cutter.  I use my food processor.

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Combine the beaten egg, water and vinegar.  Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once.  Blend with a spoon until flour is well moistened.

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Divide the dough into 3 equal discs.  The dough can be rolled out immediately or can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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You might be able to get four crusts from this recipe but I give myself a little wiggle room for bad edges or other rolling difficulties.  Roll the crust out on a lightly floured surface and line the bottom of the pie pan with the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350.

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Raspberry Filling:

6 cups raspberries

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 T cornstarch

2 T tapioca

2 T butter

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Combine the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and tapioca in a large bowl and gently stir.  Allow them to sit for 10 minutes or so.  Pour the berries into the prepared pie crust.  Cut butter into small pats and put on top of the raspberry filling.

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Roll out the top crust, cut slits with a paring knife,  and crimp the edges.  Sprinkle with a little white sugar.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.  To avoid drips in your oven put the pie on a cookie sheet lined with foil.

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Mmmmmmm.  This pie was great!  Served with a little whipping cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Now let’s talk about that pumpkin pie.  I had purchased a couple of little sugar pumpkins that I used for fall table decorations and decided to make them into my traditional pumpkin pie.  Waste not, want not.

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As I was seeding these little babies and getting them ready to roast to fork tender goodness in the oven my dad said, can’t you buy pumpkin in a can?  I said, of course I can but this will be homemade.  From scratch.  It will be better than pumpkin in a can!  I should have listened to my dad and retrieved a can of pumpkin from my pantry.  Mistake number one.

Preheat oven to 400.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups pumpkin

12 oz can evaporated milk

2 beaten eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ginger

1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace

1 tsp cloves

1 T flour

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Quarter the pumpkins, scrape the seeds and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until fork tender.  Once the pumpkin is done scrape the meat into a bowl and discard the skins.

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Purée the pumpkin in a food processor.

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Doesn’t this look beautiful!??  Mistake number two.  I should have tasted the pumpkin at this point.  But I did not.

Combine the pumpkin with the egg, evaporated milk, brown sugar, flour and spices and whisk together until well combined.  Pour into the prepared crust.

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I had scraps of crust left over so I copied a friend’s idea and cut little leaves out with a cookie cutter and lined the edge.  I actually had to add the fancy crust pieces part way through the baking process because the filling is too runny initially.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the crust comes out clean.

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There is no picture of this pie on a plate with whipping cream.  I ate a small slice and proclaimed it too awful for human consumption.  However, this is a good recipe for pumpkin pie provided that you use 2 cups of canned pumpkin.  Next year I’ll listen to my Dad.

NOTE:  In the future I will use my little sugar pie pumpkins for table decorations only and I will use Libby’s pumpkin for my pie.

 

 

Sugar and Cinnamon Glazed Nuts

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My friend Georgia and I have gotten together in December for a baking marathon for over 30 years.  We have several cookies and candies that are staples each year.  Friends and family  have their favorites and we try to keep everyone happy.  But we also like to change things up a little.  Try something new.  This year we decided to omit one of our standard cookies (thumb prints) and make these candied nuts.  We are both very glad that we did!  They are easy to make and the house smells amazing while they’re in the oven.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews)

2/3 cups of melted butter

2 cups sugar

3 T cinnamon

2 tsp salt

4 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 250.  Beat the egg whites with the salt until they are frothy.  Gradually add in the vanilla and sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the nuts and the cinnamon.  You can use a wooden spoon or your hands making sure that the nuts are all coated.  Add the melted butter and stir to coat.  It will look like a mess.  And you’ll wonder if I omitted an essential ingredient or a step in the process.  Have faith.

Pour the nuts out onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  I used a large jelly roll pan with sides. Place in the oven and bake for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.  This is when the kitchen starts to smell really amazing.

Pour the nuts out onto parchment paper or foil to cool.  Store in zip lock bags or sealed containers.  Enjoy!

We used almonds and walnuts because that is what we had but I think pecans and cashews would also be excellent.

NOTE:  Recipes for most all of our standard cookies are on my blog under Christmas Cookies.

Fruit Tarts aka Individual Fruit Pizzas

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I have made “fruit pizza” for  desserts for years.  It gives one the illusion or delusion of a “healthy” dessert, it looks pretty, and it’s easy to make.   And, for me, it brings back fond memories of a dear friend who made this dessert for us with white peaches and blueberries.  I decided this time around to make individual tarts rather than making the dessert in a pizza or jelly roll pan.  The dessert has a sugar cookie base.  You can make your own sugar cookie dough and cut out shapes or you can buy already prepared Pillsbury sugar cookie dough which is what I did.  I baked the cookies the night before and baked them a little longer than recommended to help crisp them up so they wouldn’t get soggy.  If you’re using a pizza or jelly roll pan, pat the dough (an 18 oz tube of sugar cookie dough) evenly into an ungreased pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

You can use whatever fruits you choose.  I would recommend using fresh rather than previously frozen fruit.  I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and mandarine oranges.  Or you can use white peaches and blueberries like my friend did.  I liked the combination to be colorful.

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Once the base has been baked and cooled prepare the next layer.

Ingredients:

8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature

8 oz container of mascarpone cheese at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

8 oz container of coolwhip

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Combine all of the ingredients, cream together, and spread a generous spoonful on each cookie or distribute over the cookie base.

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Next wash and pat your fruit dry.  My blackberries and grapes were rather large so I cut those in half.   Place the fruit on the cream filling.

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Lastly I add a fruit juice glaze.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3 T cornstarch

1 cup orange juice (I used orange mango)

1/4 cup pineapple juice

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Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small sauce pan.  Add the juices and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken.  Remove the glaze from the heat and allow it to cool completely before brushing it on the fruit.  I use a little pastry brush.  There you have it.  A beautiful little sweet treat that you’d be proud to serve your guests.

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The individual fruit tarts were a first for me but I think I will continue to make them this way in the future.  While it’s a little fussier and more time consuming I think the presentation is best!

NOTE:  If you are starting with 24 cookies half the cream filling and glaze are sufficient.  You might just want to cut both recipes in half.

 

Chocolate Brownies

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Almost everyone loves brownies. We attended a 4th of July party yesterday and almost every year I’m asked to bring chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

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This brownie recipe is very rich and fudgy.  If you usually make brownies from a mix this recipe will hopefully change your mind. I’ve been making these brownies for years and they are always a hit.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

4 oz bar of semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Preheat your oven to 350.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt the butter and chocolate. Watch carefully to ensure that you do not to over heat the chocolate.

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As soon as the butter and chocolate are melted remove from the heat. In the same pan stir in all of sugar.

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Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

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Stir in the flour and add the vanilla.

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Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. To make this batch of brownies even more chocolatey I sprinkled them with 1 cup of milk chocolate chips once they were baked and returned the pan to the oven for a couple more minutes. Once the chips were melted I used a knife to spread them out and put a half pecan on top to dress them up. They are also good with seedless raspberry jam spread over the top while they are still warm and then drizzled with melted white chocolate.  Whatever you do to the brownies they are great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge sauce. Cube them up, freeze them and use them in your chocolate fondue or with a chocolate fountain.

Enjoy!

Rhubarb, Strawberry, Apple Crisp

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After making three batches of strawberry jam I had strawberries left and I decided to make a crisp with berries, rhubarb and apples. One of my dad’s and my daughter’s favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb so I know they have both loved this dessert.  Easy to make and great served warm with some ice cream or fresh whipping cream.

Ingredients:

3 cups diced rhubarb

2 cups strawberries hulled and halved

1 cup peeled and diced apple

1 cup granulated sugar

3 T flour

zest of one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup melted butter

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl combine fruit, granulated sugar, lemon zest and 3 T flour. Toss to combine and pour into an 8×10 baking dish.

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In the same bowl you tossed the fruit around in add the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and butter for the crisp and mix to combine.

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Using your hands crumble the crisp ingredients over the fruit.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the crisp should be a golden brown.

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No pictures of us enjoying this dessert. Shortly after it came out of the oven I covered it with foil, wrapped it in a bath towel and took it to a friend’s house for dessert. It was amazing if I do say so myself. My Dad and daughter would have been in dessert heaven. I whipped up some fresh cream and brought it along to top the crisp.

NOTE:  I learned a simple and time saving tip for whipping cream from one of my many food magazines.   If you have an immersion blender put the heavy cream and a little granulated sugar into a quart jar and after a few spins of the immersion blender you have perfect whipped cream. No cream splatter on the counter and easy to store in the fridge or transport to serve with dessert.

 

Blueberry Buttermilk Pound Cake

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It has been a couple weeks since my last post. We’ve been doing some traveling and most recently I spent a week in Chicago with my daughter. A perfectly wonderful celebration of Mother’s Day and my birthday. As they age a lot of people stop celebrating birthdays or lie a little about their age. My theory is, the older we get the longer we should celebrate. This year the two middle weeks of May are my birthday and next year it may be the entire month!  Birthday lunches and dinners with family and friends, toasts, presents, cards, FB greetings…embrace your age, embrace the attention, wear a tiara, eat cake. If no one bakes you a cake, bake your own. That’s what I did!  While I was in Chicago my daughter and I made this cake. A new experiment. And a successful one. I decided to replicate this delicious cake for my birthday.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

2 cups blueberries

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Preheat your oven to 325 and grease a bundt pan.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter until light and fluffy.

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Gradually add the sugar and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, beating after each addition.

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Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.

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Stir in the extracts. Stir in the blueberries.

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Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Allow the cake to cool for 10-15 minutes, invert the pan and plate the cake.

Now sometimes the things I bake are works of art and sometimes they’re not. Today this cake was not a work of art!!

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This is the cake I baked last week with my daughter.

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This was the birthday cake I baked myself. Oh my. I really should be embarrassed to post this picture. I’ve had problems with things sticking in this pan before but this was ridiculous. We are eating the cake and it tastes SO much better than it looks. But the pan is in the trash!  I need to buy myself a new bundt pan. Maybe a birthday gift to myself.

This cake is great with a scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream. Happy birthday to me!

 

Snickerdoodles

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This is more of a tribute post than a recipe post. A very dear family friend passed away a couple weeks ago and I inherited a few boxes full of knitting and quilting and sewing patterns. In her files I found clippings from 1961 and 1962 when she wrote a column in a local newspaper entitled “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That…”  She had a “blog” before there were blogs.

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She was a beautiful lady who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Home Economics. She was a great cook and baker, an incredibly talented seamstress (she made my wedding dress), a fantastic hand quilter, and a whiz with knitting needles and a crochet hook. Right up to the time she passed away she was knitting hats for newborns that she donated through her church.  She was a patient teacher who passed on her skills to her sons and grandchildren. And a few to me. When I took up knitting a few years ago I would call her for long distance assistance and whenever I visited she wanted to see my latest projects.

In her “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That” column she gave advice and helpful hints and, you guessed it, the recipe for Snicker doodles.   I am a real sappy sentimentalist so when I found this particular column I had to make the cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening (I used butter flavor Crisco)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + 1/4 cup for rolling

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

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Beat the shortening, eggs and sugar together thoroughly.

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Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Chill the dough and roll into balls about the size of a walnut. While the dough is chilling whisk together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

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Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and still soft.

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Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.

In her column my friend talks about making these for Halloween. She says, “I just finished a batch of cookies and put them in the freezer in anticipation of many little trick or treaters. It’s fun to see the smiling faces as you hand each small fry his surprise. This is a good time to remember too much candy for growing youngsters is not a good idea. Vary your gifts, fruit such as apples or oranges along with a homemade cookie. A plain napkin with the goodies in the center and the corners brought together and tied with string, is much easier to handle.”  Those were the days. When kids got excited about a homemade cookie and a piece of fruit and parents would actually let their kids eat the homemade cookie and piece of fruit.

I was so happy to find these clippings. I’ll share more of the helpful hints in the future. Rest in Peace Peggy Johnson. I believe that having her in my life made me a better person.  She will live on always in my heart and mind and with every snicker doodle I make.

💕

Strawberry Lime Sorbet

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Spring seems like it’s never going to get here and I thought a nice fruity sorbet would make a refreshing dessert and would taste like Spring. I happen to have an ice cream maker that I haven’t used in awhile so I dusted that off and put the bowl in the freezer. I decided to combine strawberries and lime to get a little sweet tart thing going on.

Ingredients:

2 1-lb boxes of strawberries washed and hulled

2 T fresh squeezed lime juice

zest of one lime (about a tsp)

1/2 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is and, of course, personal taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Put the washed and hulled berries in your food processor and purée until smooth.

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Pour the purée into a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside while you prepare the syrup.

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Taste your purée for sweetness and then determine how much sugar to add. I used a generous 1/4 cup. Measure your sugar, zest, lime juice and water into a small saucepan.

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Cook over medium heat stirring constantly just until sugar is dissolved.

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After taking it off the heat stir in the vanilla. Allow the syrup to cool a little. Once it’s cooled stir the syrup into the purée. You should have between 3 and 4 cups total once the syrup and purée are combined. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. Now dust off your Ice cream maker.

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Once it’s assembled (I had to get the manual out) turn it on and pour in the purée.

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After about 30 minutes I had a perfect sorbet. Scoop out and garnish with a little slice of lime or a piece of fresh mint. And enjoy the taste of Spring!

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Now that I’ve dusted off the ice cream maker and located the manual I think I’ll be experimenting with more fruit sorbets. They are a lot lower in calories than ice cream or even frozen yogurt.

NOTE:  Put your sorbet into a container with a good sealing lid and store it in the freezer. Before serving leave it out for a couple minutes for easier scooping. Also, I had a particularly juicy lime so I saved the rest of the juice in a labeled zip lock snack bag and put it in my freezer.

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Chocolate Filled Coconut Nests with Cadbury Eggs

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In Easters past my daughter and I, and sometimes her friends, would color lots of eggs and then decoupage pictures we cut out of magazines, add glitter and hot glue gems on them. Sometimes they were hard boiled (or accidentally soft boiled).  One year I bought brown eggs by mistake. But our favorite was making a hole in each end of the egg and blowing the whites and yolks out. I poked the holes, my daughter had to do the egg blowing. I wasn’t so good at that!   I have a bowl full of those blown eggs saved. I’m kind of a sappy sentimentalist.

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This is a project I would have enjoyed doing with my daughter. Plus Cadbury milk chocolate eggs are her all time favorite Easter candy. The nests were easy.

Ingredients:

14 ounce bag of good coconut

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp salt

food coloring (pick your favorite color)

1 cup Ghirardelli chocolate chips

1 pkg chocolate eggs

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Preheat the oven to 300.

Separate the yolks from the whites and, using a whisk, stir the whites and the salt together. Add a small amount of food coloring and blend into the egg whites. I used the Wilton paste and a little bit goes a long way. Just stir. Don’t whip.

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Stir in the coconut until well blended. Spray miniature muffin tins with cooking spray and put a couple tablespoons of the coconut mixture into each muffin cup. Gently press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of each cup leaving a nice indentation in the center.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until coconut begins to brown a little. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for about 10 minutes on wire racks.

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Using a metal icing knife remove the nests from the pans to finish cooling on the wire rack.

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Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish stirring every 20 seconds or so just until melted.

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Put about 1 tsp of chocolate in each nest followed by a couple Cadbury eggs. The chocolate will help to secure the eggs in the nests.

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Share these little nests full of goodness with friends and family. They would make a nice addition to Easter baskets or your Easter dinner table. Wrap them in a little Saran Wrap and tie them with pastel ribbon.

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NOTE:  I used my egg yolks to make some vanilla pudding. We will have that for dessert tonight with some fresh berries. You might also want to use a little butter cream icing in the center of each nest and use jelly beans instead of chocolate eggs.

Happy Easter.