My favorite baking season is here! I’ve been doing less baking but still trying to squeeze some in, here and there. This time last year, I was baking and sharing all kinds of recipes. I haven’t gone as crazy this fall because, well, COVID and everyone in my house is trying to eat super healthy to keep our immune systems in a place to help fight off that horrible virus. Also, depending on the day, we’re not eating gluten or dairy. Sometimes, we’re strict vegans and other days we’re not. Kind of all over the place!
Carrie was off school Friday and we decided to make our annual trip to an orchard where they also sell apple fritters. First of all, everyone in NE Ohio was off school and flocked to that place! I didn’t feel comfortable being there so we grabbed our fritters and went right back to the car to eat them. I was so excited! I took my first bite and it was disappointing. Second bite, bland. Third bite, stale. I PUT THE APPLE FRITTER BACK IN THE BAG and decided it was definitely not worth eating. It was disappointing but not the end of the world. I knew right then and there that I’d just make my own apple fritter experience.
This morning, Carrie and I made our own. I had this recipe saved from Half Baked Harvest (my true love!). I bought local apples at Countryside Farmers’ Market on Saturday and I was ready to have my fritter moment.
I NEVER fry anything. I made an exception today and embraced all the elements of the recipe. It was 100% worth it!
These Apple Fritters are light, full of warm spices and the apples cook just enough and are bursting with flavor! Carrie didn’t want the coffee glaze the recipe calls for so we just left that out and I added a tiny bit of lemon juice to the glaze to cut the sweetness a little. They are beyond delicious! They’re little bites of glorious fall flavors.
After eating (inhaling) the first one, I took them over the top by adding a little homemade apple butter. I’ll just be here all day eating these!
Get the recipe (Half Baked Harvest), avoid all the crowds and stale, dry fritters and make them while all the juicy apples are in season. You won’t regret it!
Sourdough is really having a moment. A sweet friend gave me some of her sourdough starter. I made bread and it was delicious. I made rosemary crackers and I keep making them because they’re so scrumptious! It was just a matter of time until I tried my hand at sourdough pizza crust.
We’ve been making pizzas on a regular basis during quarantine. It’s fun and everyone gets to let their creativity flow into their pies. By the time we’re finished, flour is everywhere and toppings are scattered from one end of our kitchen to the other! We’ve made them on a pizza stone in the oven and on our Big Green Egg (for some reason, they always burn). I’ve checked out some of my fellow bakers’ Instagram accounts and admired their homemade pizzas made in wood-fired ovens or special pizza ovens. We’ve tried several dough recipes and techniques and last night we found our favorite so far!
The sourdough craze is making me crazy (among other things). It’s truly a love/hate relationship I have with my starter. I don’t want to love it but I do. Every single time I do the whole feeding process, I swear it’s my last. Then, I fall in love with it and I feed it and nurture it the way any good starter mama would. I came across a recipe for sourdough pizza crust on this cute site: Little Spoon Farm. I was intrigued because they use a cast iron skillet. I have nothing but love for my iron skillets so I knew I had to try it!
IT IS SO GOOD AND REALLY EASY TO MAKE! You get all the char and the dough has that slightly sour flavor while being light and airy with a crispy crust. We made a smaller, starter pizza to share and it cooked up really well too! You just can’t go wrong with pizza.
Carrie has been trying to eat less gluten so I made her a gluten free crust. I didn’t get a picture but it was also really delicious! Here are links to both recipes:
Homemade pizza is worth the mess and I know exactly what’s going into our pizzas. We also get to use a lot of local ingredients, so it’s just a win all the way around! These recipes are both fantastic! I hope you try them and feel free to let me know how you make pizza and your preferred toppings!
May has been quite strange. Some days have been filled with sunshine, hikes, baking, sourdough starter, sourdough bread, sourdough crackers, games, sidewalk chalk, home work outs, House Parties, FaceTime sessions, and walks. Other days have included rain, snow, news from family members that they’re jobs are going away (along with their pay), ill parents, parents who’ve passed, pets who’ve passed, hours spent inside, and days that make me feel like I just want to run away to a remote island and not think about all the terrible things going on.
I don’t want to get too deep here because this is meant to be a place mostly filled with cheerful topics and recipes. However, there’s no denying we’re all dealing with situations and emotions that are pushing us to places we may be unfamiliar with. There are times I struggle but I’m thankful my family is healthy and safe. In the midst of all the pandemic news, I’ve recently been blessed with tidbits of joyous occasions and moments and I’m choosing to focus on those!
I was able to support local businesses for Mother’s Day and graduation shopping!
We’ve been fortunate to have local, fresh food to make meals at home!
Rhubarb is in season!
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and Carrie and I made a cheesecake to celebrate!
BIG NEWS: both of my daughters are graduating this year!
Hannah graduated yesterday with her Master’s Degree and Carrie will graduate from 8th grade in June. Before COVID, the next several weeks were set to be jam packed with all sorts of celebration. It’s looking differently than I planned but my heart is just as full, thanks to technology (Zoom!) and people who care and truly go above and beyond! It’s amazing how the worst times can bring out the absolute best in people and situations!
Congratulations, Hannah! We were able to watch the virtual ceremony, and it was great to share her big day with her! She and her fiancé went to campus a couple weeks ago and took photos. Just look at that smile; she’s beaming! For the past couple years, she’s worked full-time, attended classes, written papers, spent countless weekends and nights studying or working on group projects, got engaged, moved and adopted a puppy. She’s basically Superwoman!
Carrie’s school is unique because it’s preschool through 8th grade. Many of the students have been there since they were very young so 8th grade graduation is a pretty big deal. The school has put a lot of effort into honoring and recognizing the 8th grade class of 2020. She was surprised by teachers the other night and she felt super special! They showed up in separate cars, honking horns, masks on and clapping their hands as they walked up our driveway. Carrie couldn’t believe it! They brought a sign and sang a song. They also delivered a gift but the real gift was seeing their faces and hearing them tell Carrie how much they miss her and how proud they are of her! These are some extraordinary humans! I’m so proud of you, Carrie and am excited to celebrate your graduation!
Shortly before Carrie’s teachers arrived, my neighbor texted me that their rhubarb plant was full and I could take all I want. I ran over, grabbed rhubarb and whipped up a quick batch of my Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins. Unfortunately, they weren’t ready when the teachers were here but I took some to neighbors and a couple other friends nearby. These are so easy to make and you can use any kind of berry or fruit you have on hand. Perfect to make for mom, if you’re lucky enough to be with her for Mother’s Day or for your special grad who may be feeling sad about missing out on all the end of year festivities. Strange times indeed.
Let’s hurry up and get through this so we can all get back to celebrating special occasions IN PERSON! In the meantime, wishing all the mamas a sweet Mother’s Day and a big congrats to all the 2020 grads who’ve stepped up and demonstrated their resilience in a time none of us were prepared for.
I hope all of us are able to find and cherish the happy moments in all the stress and uncertainty. Sending you lots of hugs!
From the heart,
Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour (I used Mud Run Farm whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil (I used coconut)
1/3 cup milk of your choice
1 cup fresh berries/fruit Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cubed butter
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400; Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Combine oil, egg and milk and add to dry ingredients. Fold in fruit. Scoop into muffin pan. Combine all topping ingredients using hands or pastry cutter and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 9-10 muffins. Recipe can easily be doubled! Enjoy!
Here we are! It’s nearly the end of March and what a month this has been. This post is kind of all over the place because there are resources I want to share but I also want to share a little personal life for a sense of connection to so many of you! I hope you’re staying healthy and safe and finding the extra time to be a gift. Finding “more” time is something I hear people say they wish they had more of. The bright side of this quarantine is that, more time is exactly what we have.
Time to breathe. Time to reflect on what’s really necessary in our busy lives. Time to give our kids and fur babies extra hugs. Time to get outside and notice that everything is waking up from the winter sleep. Time to connect (virtually) with family and friends. Time to dust off some old board games. Time to do TikToks with our teens (see the video at the end!). Time to clean out a closet or organize a pantry. Time for family room dance parties. Time to admire our kids for adapting to new ways of learning. Time to thank teachers for being creative and dedicated in ways they never imagined they’d have to. Time for driveway basketball and hopscotch games. Time to explore a hike we’ve always wanted to do. Time to figure out how to access and do a home work out. Time to bake and make meals together. Time to wonder what we’ll do when things go back to normal.
Home workouts; cinnamon rolls and coffee; hiking; matcha in my favorite mug (Billy Ritter)
I thought I’d use some of my time to share what we’ve been doing to fill up our days (and a healthy recipe below). This week is Carrie’s spring break and we were planning to go to Florida to visit my mom and get in some sun and beach. This week looks a little different than we planned but we’re trying to make the most of it. We all are and I feel for everyone who’s had to cancel plans or wonder about what the next couple months will bring. My heart goes out to all the health care workers, grocery employees, airline employees and everyone else who must get out there everyday and do their jobs. Thank you! As always, I’m thankful for farmers who continue to do what they do so we have access to healthy food. If you live in NE Ohio, Countryside is launching Countryside Curbside to help with access to local food makers! Creative solutions are everywhere!
Since all of this quarantine came to be, we haven’t really been on a schedule, which is tough for me. I like structure and routine. I actually thrive with structure and routine. I’ve let it all go. No specific wake up time or schedule throughout the day. What I’ve tried to do is have a list of things I’d like to accomplish each day. I’m not getting hung up on specific times. For example, I want to work out, get outside, make meals, connect with a friend or family member, read, play games, tackle a house project and catch up on some shows I’ve wanted to watch. I try to fit all of these in each day but I’m not stressing about it because we all have enough to stress about. If I start to feel antsy, I take Daisy for a walk or pour myself into an online yoga session. How about you? What are you doing to fill your days? Are you finding joy in having time or is it stressful?
Here’s a snapshot of some of our days. Lots of outside time, cuddles, food and games (not pictured–plenty of wine!):
I voted; Daisy Mae keeps me warm; we spotted a beaver at CVNP; beautiful sunset; homemade soft pretzels; photo fun with Carrie (and Jasmine).
Daisy Mae keeps me warm!
Spotted a beaver at CVNP!
Homemade soft pretzels!
Silly Snapchat time with Carrie (and Jasmine)!
Carrie and I did an Instagram Live on St. Patrick’s Day while making cupcakes; hiking in CVNP; playing James Bond (card game); supporting local brands-Masthead and Cleveland Kraut; more hiking in Summit County Metroparks.
Nothing too complicated here. I’m so lucky to have what I need and I hope to be able to share some of that with others throughout this challenging time. I keep supporting local and small businesses and we’re staying home. Carrie, Daisy and I have been home for 14 days (except for voting). Casey had to work and he’s been home for 3 days.
I’ve been baking but not nearly as much as I’d like because there aren’t enough home work outs to burn off the calories I’d consume if I had baked goods within reach 24/7. I don’t have any self control when I’m stuck at home! Also, I’m trying to not blow through all of our ingredients in case we really need them later.
The other day I made a healthier version of banana bread and it has been a nice little treat and thought I’d share it here. It’s not overly sweet and it’s delicious with a smear of nut butter (I love Nosh and they’re offering free shipping across the U.S. with promo code HUNKERDOWN) and a drizzle of honey (Brighton Wool and Honey is one of my favorites). I also love to sprinkle hemp seeds or chia seeds on top. The point is, this bread feels like bread but isn’t full of the carbs and sugar I’m trying to limit. Yay! I’ve also been experimenting more with healthy alternatives to some of my favorite comfort foods and baked goods. This one is a winner!
If you’re on Instagram, the videos are in my highlights. It’s easy, healthy and yummy!
Friends, I wish you health–physical and mental! We’re all in this and we’ll get through it with kindness, patience and love. Sending you all a BIG virtual hug and hoping you find lots of ways to spend your gift of extra time that bring you joy! Here’s something you might get a laugh out of (gotta love TikTok!):
Hi! I feel fall in the air. Even though the temps here in NE Ohio are quite warm, the air feels different. I’ve been studying all sorts of fall recipes and feeling downright giddy about one of my favorite baking seasons. Please give me all the pumpkin baked goods in the world! My Pinterest boards and baking notebook are overflowing with all the things I want to make! What better way to spend September than by sharing all things pumpkin?
Pumpkin Spice Rolls topped my fall baking list. I really hope you make these! They’re worth every single second you’ll spend planning, baking and eating them. I made this version a few years ago to sell at one of the farmers’ markets. My original cinnamon rolls always sold out. It was fall, I was feeling pumpkin-y and these marvelous rolls were discovered. My regular customers enjoyed them and I liked that they looked like fall. The pumpkin taste is subtle and gives the dough the most beautiful color and texture. Swapping out the cinnamon filling for a pumpkin pie spice filling is a scrumptious change. If you’re like me and start making pumpkin recipes before stores sell pumpkin pie spice, here’s my recipe to make your own.
When you make these rolls and take that first bite, your life will be changed and you’ll probably never want a regular cinnamon roll again! Never say never. However, these are super special.
This is a yeast dough recipe. Don’t be scared, it’s so simple to put together. Start with good (mostly local) ingredients. Get the sugar, milk and yeast mingling then add the rest of the ingredients and let the dough hook on your mixer do the work. You can also knead by hand.
The big difference in this recipe is the addition of pumpkin and spices. They really transform the texture and flavor of the dough. Once the dough comes together, place it in a bowl and put in a warm place to rise. Step one is complete!
While the dough is rising, mix up the filling. Brown sugar and lots of pumpkin pie spice. Line a pan with parchment and butter it. The parchment is a must!
Gently roll out the dough. Once it’s rolled, smear butter all over it. Some people melt their butter to do this step but I like the butter to just be soft enough to slather it. Think back to your kindergarten finger painting days! Want in on a little secret? I write words or notes in the butter. Yep. I’ve always done that. Depending on my mood, they can be pretty interesting! Have fun and put some love into these babies!
Next comes the spices. Don’t skimp and generously sprinkle them over the butter layer! Roll the dough towards you and slice. I’ve seen all kinds of methods for slicing. The one that works best for me is my good bread knife. Try to keep the rolls tight.
Place the slices in the prepared pan and let them rise again. When they’ve doubled in size, bake them and enjoy how amazing your house smells! If you bake these in the morning hours, you will not have to beg anyone to get out of bed! The first picture below is before the rise and the third picture is after. If you don’t want to bake them right away, don’t go through with the second rise yet. You can stick them in the fridge and get them out about an hour before you want to bake them to let them rise.
While the rolls bake, make the icing. It’s a simple vanilla cream cheese base. I also like to add bourbon. I didn’t on this batch but if you want to kick them up a notch, experiment with adding bourbon or maple syrup or more pumpkin pie spice. Even more pumpkin would be yummy!
Frosting these is somehow very therapeutic. I always do it when the rolls are warm. You can use as much or as little as you wish.
This next step is very important. Get one out of the pan right away, sit down, take a deep breath, don’t think about anything else, and dig in. The first bite will get you feeling like this is what’s been missing from your life. The next bite will ensure that it will never be missing again. Ever.
Are you doing a Pumpkin Spice Roll happy dance? Maybe it’s just me but I’ve been known to break out in dance when I eat something so good!
The day I made these, I was home alone. I’ve been on a really clean eating plan and I haven’t had any sugar for a few weeks. Don’t even get me started on why I ever thought that was a good idea. That all flew out the window when I pulled one of these out of the pan to take photos. I was already sipping a glass of homemade cold brew (full of cream and pumpkin pie spice). I couldn’t resist and ate one of these big rolls in a matter of seconds. I love all the things about them and I enjoyed the heck out of it with my afternoon coffee. Feelings of comfort and joy came over me and I actually felt pretty darn happy in that gooey, pumpkin, spice filling, frosting, coffee moment!
I took one with me to give Carrie when I picked her up from school. She immediately lit up, thanked me, inhaled it in the car and got right to her homework as soon as she walked in the door. See? Life changing.
From the heart,
Pumpkin Spice Rolls Dough
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up, room temperature
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
1/3 to 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed (you can use light or dark or mix them)
3 to 4 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or bourbon or maple syrup
3-4 TBSP whole milk
To make the dough: Place milk and sugar in your mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Add remaining dough ingredients to bowl and mix together and knead all of the dough ingredients to make a smooth, soft dough. You may need to add more flour if it’s too sticky.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 60 minutes, or until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
To fill and shape the buns: Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a ~16″ x 21″ rectangle.
Spread the dough with the 1/3 to 1/2 cup butter. Write a cute word or note in the butter (do it!). Mix the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice, and sprinkle it evenly over the dough.
Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 12 slices (about 1 inch thick).
Place the buns in a parchment lined and buttered 9″ x 13″ pan. Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. If you aren’t planning to bake now, stick in the fridge and get them out about about an hour ahead of baking time.
While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Uncover the buns, and bake them until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing. You can also make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for days, just let it soften up.
To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Remove the buns from the oven. Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm.
Serve buns warm, or at room temperature. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for a day or so; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: 12 large buns.
Yesterday, I went to my favorite farmers’ market, Countryside in Howe Meadow. After being gone for most of July, I’m back in the swing of things and getting my hands on as much local, summer fruits and veggies as possible!
I’ve always liked zucchini. Before the days of zoodles, I prepared it all sorts of ways. I grilled it, baked it and baked WITH it. It’s versatile and healthy. Zucchini has a decent amount of potassium and is loaded with vitamin C. It’s good for your heart!
Zucchini bread is one of those seasonal indulgences that just feels right about this point in the summer. Sliced and toasted with good butter or cream cheese. Yum! While at the market, I picked up a jar of cashew almond butter from my friends at Nosh Butters. If you haven’t tried their nut butters, I encourage you to partake in their samples the next time you see them at an event. All of their flavors are delicious as well as vegan, gluten free, and palm oil free. I’ve been known to hang out with a jar of nut butter and a spoon on occasion and theirs are some of my favorites. Plus, their business philosophy is right on and it’s another local, small business we can support!
While hanging at their booth at the market, it dawned on me that nut butter would be delicious smeared on zucchini bread. Yes! The cashew almond variety is mellow and has just the right texture to slather on some beautiful bread. I covered up all the pretty green flecks of zucchini before I took this photo. I promise, they’re in there!
If you’re loving all the zucchini and looking for ways to bake with it, try this recipe and get some Nosh nut butter to take it over the top! My recipe is light and not weighed down by tons of brown sugar like some of the ones I’ve seen. You can certainly make this your own by substituting gluten free flour, adding nuts, berries and change the oil type to suit your taste. This recipe can simply serve as a guide! 🙂
Summer harvest is upon us and I’m digging it! What are some of your favorite ways to make zucchini? I’d enjoy hearing new ideas! Happy baking!
From the heart,
You don’t even need a mixer for this recipe! It can be made in a regular loaf pan, mini loaf pans or a lined muffin tin. I usually double or triple it and make tons to freeze or hand out to neighbors, friends and local businesses.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup coconut oil melted (or whatever oil you like to bake with)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini (12 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts (or fruit) if using.
Divide batter evenly between 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack. Adjust baking time depending on what size bread you’re making.