Embracing the new

Hello! I hope you’re well! This is day 34 of social distancing for me. My family is healthy and has somewhat acclimated to our current reality.  There’s definitely a lot going on and so much is out of our control.

I’m trying to embrace the new. New routines, recipes, local businesses, ways of connecting with friends and family, workout programs, wines, hairstyles and t-shirt/legging combinations :). Today, I’m sharing a couple of my amazing new finds.

Last week was our first Perfectly Imperfect Produce delivery. I’ve wanted to order for a while and, with COVID-19 stay at home orders in full swing, it seemed like the ideal time to support a local, woman-owned business and keep me out of stores. We ordered the Large Organic size box which was full of fruits and veggies AND it was delivered! We were also able to make a contribution toward additional boxes Perfectly Imperfect Produce is supplying to health care workers. Perfect!

The box included Swiss Chard. I’ve only had Swiss Chard a couple times from Carrie’s school garden and I think I just chopped some up and put it in a salad. I knew I had to use all of the contents in the box! I’m determined to bring every single food item in our kitchen to new life by transforming it into a yummy breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. I went straight to one of my favorite books, The Vegetable Butcher. I highly recommend this book!

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What can I make with Swiss Chard? My answer? Well, Cara Mangini’s answer–Swiss Chard Crostata with Fennel Seed Crust. After a quick scan of necessary ingredients, I was certain I had everything to make it or could easily improvise. I whipped up the dough for the crostata crust the day before Easter and it was easy. The next day I made the filling and baked the whole thing for our Easter meal. I’ve never made a crust without butter! This recipe had me intrigued and I couldn’t wait to get it all together!

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I didn’t get any photos of the preparation process but here’s one of the finished crostata. It’s so pretty! The crust is unique and full of flavor from the olive oil and fennel seeds. The filling is lovely and balanced. We devoured it!

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This recipe is a keeper (I’m linking it to a site that has permission to publish the recipe)! One of the things I’ve enjoyed during quarantine is trying new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients based on what we have on hand. Are you trying new recipes or creating dishes from your pantry and refrigerator finds? I’d love to hear! Stay home and stay well!

From the heart,
Shannon

SWISS CHARD CROSTATA WITH FENNEL SEED CRUST

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King Cake

Have you tried King Cake? The first time I had it was in Cincinnati at a Fat Tuesday food day in my office (picture the largest conference room, full of food). It was from a bakery called, Servatii and I loved it! The first time I made King Cake was in 2013 with Hannah and Carrie. I’m not even sure why I did or what sparked my interest. I looked up a recipe and we started baking! Here are my babies doing their best King Cake work!

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The ring shaped confection is similar to coffee cake and topped with icing and sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power/wealth), to honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas. There is a plastic baby hidden inside that finds its way to someone’s plate. In our house, we let that person make a wish! The normal tradition is that whoever gets the baby must host the next party.

Every year just before Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, the day of feasting before the Christian fast known as Lent, people in the Midwest get pretty excited. Bakeries start offering special menu items such as: packzi (“POONCH-key”), filled doughnuts and King Cake. Below is a sampling of NE Ohio bakeries I found that offer packzi and/or King Cakes if you don’t want to make your own. Check them out and support local whenever you can! If you live elsewhere, find a local bakery that celebrates Fat Tuesday in a big way. You won’t regret it!
Becker’s
Breads and Beyond Bakery
Brewnuts
Jack Frost Donuts
Kiedrowski’s Bakery
Michael Angelo’s
Sweet Mary’s Bakery

King Cake is easy to make and this recipe delivers a soft, chewy dough, swirled with a cinnamon sugar filling. The glaze is a little tart from the addition of lemon and the combination of everything make it a nice little treat!

Start with sour cream, butter, sugar, salt, water, yeast, bread flour, eggs, and cinnamon.

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Cook the sour cream, butter and sugar in a medium size pan and let it cool slightly. Combine water, sugar and yeast and let it sit until it bubbles. Place eggs in a mixer bowl, add sour cream mixture and yeast.

Add 2 cups at a time of the bread flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead gently and place in a bowl to rise (about an hour).

Divide dough in half and roll one piece into a 22″ x 12″ rectangle, smear with softened butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over. Don’t forget to write your note!

Roll it up, form into an oval/circular shape and pinch the ends together to seal.

Now do the same thing with the other piece of dough. Cover both cakes and let them rise again for about 30 minutes. Then bake at 375°F for 14-20 minutes.

Let the cakes cool slightly while you make the glaze. Powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Whisk it all together. Line up those pretty sugars and you’re good to go.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake and top with the sugars. I don’t love how the cake looks in the first picture but once it’s glazed, I adore it! So does Daisy Mae!

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I made both cakes, decorated one and let Carrie decorate the other. It was a nice break from homework! Daisy was there to supervise!

The baby! I alway push it in through the bottom once the cake is finished. They look kind of creepy. Perhaps there are cuter ones but I bought a big pack of these several years ago and I just keep using the same ones. Tiny, creepy-ish photo.

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We invited our neighbors over to catch up and eat King Cake. This cake isn’t fancy or heavy but it is delicious. It has a nice texture and flavor. Works well with coffee, tea and wine. I kept going back to get another little slice throughout the evening. It’s fun to make and something just a little different to get us through these gloomy winter days. I hope you’ll try it!


From the heart,
Shannon

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King Cake
Cake
Ingredients
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 TBSP sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour* (I use King Arthur)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
    Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
    Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  4. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Write a little note in the butter! Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
  5. Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Bake at 375° for 14 to 20 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored (purple, green, gold) sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

Creamy Glaze
Ingredients
3 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP butter, melted
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 TBSP milk
Instructions
Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

*6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour may be substituted.
Note:This recipe uses bread flour, which makes for a light, airy cake. You still get tasty results with all-purpose flour–the cake will just be more dense.

Pumpkin Chipotle Bourbon Chili

Today has been a great fall day! It was chilly this morning. I got up early, went to the gym then headed straight to the last Countryside outdoor market of the season (they move indoors over the winter). I got these beautiful flowers from Little Bean Farm and Larder. There’s kale in there! This bouquet instantly brought me some feel good and I skipped through the meadow, taking in all the crisp air and gorgeous views. I was intentional about my time this morning because I didn’t have to rush. That was a nice feeling!

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While at the market, I also picked up some things for chili tonight. I decided to make two kinds: my traditional style chili using Beyond Meat in the Instant Pot and a new recipe I found that calls for pumpkin, bourbon and chipotle peppers.

It’s so yummy! If you’re looking for a unique chili recipe, this one’s a keeper. It comes together quickly with simple, healthy ingredients! It’s vegetarian and gluten free. Yay!

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Sauté onion, garlic and red pepper in a little olive oil. Add chili powder, salt and cumin then pour in the bourbon. It smells amazing right about now!

I still have lots of homemade pumpkin purée so I added that, crushed tomatoes, beans, chipotle peppers and butternut squash. These colors match all the trees right now. Beautiful!

That’s it! It simmers for about 30-40 minutes which gave me plenty of time to whip up a pan of cornbread. I knew the chili would have some kick so I thought a little cornbread drizzled with my favorite Brighton Wool & Honey Raw Wildflower Honey would be the perfect sidekick.

It’s still chili but it’s different and I dig it! It’s thick and loaded with unique flavors and the cornbread with honey is the perfect accompaniment.

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It’s raining and cold and I don’t even care. Kinda busy here inhaling this meal. Also, I’m really glad I worked out this morning!

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We have trick-or-treat in our neighborhood tomorrow night and I’m pleased as punch this recipe made enough so I can enjoy the leftovers. I bet it’s even better tomorrow!

From the heart,
Shannon

Pumpkin Chipotle Bourbon Chili
Ingredients:
1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup bourbon
14 ounces pumpkin purée (either homemade or canned)
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 19-ounce can of black beans
1 19-ounce can of navy beans (you can use your favorite beans too!)
1 small butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers pureed with adobo sauce
Plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, onions for toppings

Instructions:
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it is soft. Add the garlic and red pepper and continue to cook until the red pepper is soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the chili powder, cumin, and sea salt and let it cook for 1 minute more.
3. Add the bourbon and bring to a boil.
4. Add the canned pumpkin, crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, navy beans, butternut squash, pureed chipotle peppers and 2 cups of water and stir the pot well.
5. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and let the chili simmer for 30 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.
6. Season to taste with sea salt.
7. Serve with toppings of your choice. I highly recommend cornbread and honey for dunking!

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Recipe found and modified from The Endless Meal

Apple Cider Doughnuts

It’s finally feeling chilly here in NE Ohio and we’re drinking tons of warm apple cider! Carrie takes a mug of it to school almost every day. I enjoy it with a cinnamon stick, splash of bourbon or both. We make our annual trek to Patterson Fruit Farm to get apples, pumpkins, fritters, doughnuts and apple cider. I’m crazy about their apple cider doughnuts and only indulge one time a year. I thought I’d try making my own. I’ve made baked doughnuts many times but never made apple cider doughnuts. What have I been waiting for?

This recipe is super quick and easy. It’s a good one to make on a weekend morning for your family, or get together with friends for brunch OR simply make them for yourself! There’s nothing better than fresh doughnuts!

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My vision for this Saturday morning was similar to the spreads you see in food magazines this time of year. You know the ones. The family is hanging out around a little fire in matching plaid shirts, cute winter hats, hands cupped around their warm drinks, smiling because they’re outside among all the changing leaves, eating doughnuts. It’s a nice picture, isn’t it?

My plan: Get up early, write in my gratitude journal, shower, make these doughnuts, take some quick pictures for the blog, pack up the doughnuts along with freshly brewed coffee and steaming hot chocolate and hit a local trail with the family. Get in a brisk walk then reward ourselves with a yummy fall treat. Doesn’t that sound so fun?

It didn’t happen. Carrie woke up complaining of a sore throat and headache which put a real wrench in my plan. Casey just doesn’t eat in the morning and he wasn’t making an exception today. Mama’s gotta roll with it so, we (Carrie and I) enjoyed a more slow-paced breakfast at home. The Apple Cider Doughnuts seemed to help me forget Plan A. That isn’t completely true but I do think they lifted Carrie’s spirits a little and that’s worth way more than cute plaid shirts and morning hikes!

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These doughnuts are baked and come out light and fluffy. The ingredients are likely things you already have on hand: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and plain yogurt. Also, you’ll a donut pan. I love mine from USA Pan.

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Step one is to boil the cider to reduce it so it has a more intense flavor. This only takes about 10 minutes and it’s worth it. Once reduced, let it cool. You’ll use this in the dough and the glaze.

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Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another larger bowl. Add the dry to the wet and mix just until it all comes together.

I like to use a pastry bag to pipe the batter into the doughnut pan. You could also use a baggie or just spoon it in.

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As I was taking the photo above, there was cute Daisy Mae eating her breakfast! This also reveals the high tech photo studio I have in my kitchen! 🙂 I’m just keeping it real and it’s not ideal but I’m working with what I have! See that beagle?

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Pipe the batter and bake the doughnuts at 350 for about 8-12 minutes. Transfer from pan to wire rack.

Melt butter and add some of the apple cider reduction. Dunk the doughnuts in the butter cider combo then they get a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Not great lighting here. There’s no window near my counter.

EAT THEM WHILE THEY’RE STILL WARM!

Apple Cider Doughnuts are a delicious start to the day or weekend. Maybe, you’ll even be eating these outside while wearing a plaid shirt and cute hat, sipping a warm drink! If you’re like me and life doesn’t always go as planned, you’ll appreciate these little pillows of fall flavors even more! Actually, just make a double batch!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

Ingredients:
Doughnuts
1 cup apple cider-reduced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
3 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP of the reduced cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
Doughnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 6-cup donut pan.

In a small saucepan, heat the apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring every minute or two, until it is reduced by about half, around 10 minutes. Take off the heat, whisk in the butter until melted and combined, and set mixture aside for a few minutes to cool. Use 1/2 cup of the reduced cider for the doughnuts, and a couple tablespoons for the glaze.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the reduced cider/butter mixture, sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir to combine. Do not over mix.

Fill a pastry bag or large size baggie with the batter and snip off the end. Fill each cavity about 2/3 of the way full.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, until risen and browned on the edges. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack set over parchment paper or a baking sheet.

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
While the doughnuts are baking, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the reduced cider with 3 tablespoons melted butter in a small bowl (big enough to dip the donuts in). Whisk together sugar and cinnamon in another similar sized bowl.

One by one, dip one side of the warm doughnuts into the butter/cider mixture, then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle extra cinnamon sugar on as you wish!

Recipe modified and adapted from other recipes (Sally’s Baking Addiction and Food Network)

Berry Jam

Happy Saturday!  I mentioned in my previous post that I’d share my easy jam recipe.  I don’t use pectin or spend hours making jam.  This jam is bright and fresh and can be modified to include your favorite seasonal berries.  I’ve made variations with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and mixed in different herbs like thyme and basil.

I love it and everyone I’ve made it for loves it!  It’s yummy on toast, scones, biscuits and makes an incredible topper for ice cream.  If you’re like me and scooping up all the fresh, local berries you can right now, give this jam a try.  It’s easy and delicious!

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Start with berries.  It’s strawberry season so that’s what I’m using.  Slice them and place in a medium saucepan.  Lightly mash the berries.  Add maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice and herbs if you’re using.

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Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 55-60 minutes.  Cool and jar it up!

Super simple.  This also makes a fun gift that’s jam packed with love!  🙂  The full recipe is below. Have fun!

From the heart,
Shannon

Berry Jam

Ingredients
About 6 cups berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries–use one kind or mix)
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Optional:  2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or basil or rosemary leaves

Directions
Place the berries in a medium saucepan. Lightly mash the berries (you can use a potato masher, pastry blender or a fork). Add the maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice and herbs if using. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 55-60 minutes until thick. Cool for about 2 hours. The jam will continue to thicken. Refrigerate in air-tight jars for up to 1 month. Spread on everything!

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Week 4: Exceeding our goal AND a sneak peek at Rosie!

Hello!  Wow!  At this exact minute, Kickstarter site shows 40 hours remain on our campaign.  Yikes!  We did it, everyone!  I’m so excited and overwhelmed and can’t wait to get out there and bake my heart away!  Our progress went quickly and all the support and words of encouragement have made this such an amazing experience!

  IMG_0417   Progress Halfway   Progress 75  Progress 100

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Today, I went to visit Noah at American Vintage Camper.  I have been dying to see Rosie and want to share all the details with you!  I didn’t really know what to expect but I’m happy with where she is and the plans for the next couple weeks!  Noah told me she will get her beautiful black and white floor tiles today and he’s ready to start covering the exterior and she’ll head to the painter late next week.  I am in the process of ordering all the equipment so Noah can install all the good stuff!  We are really rolling!

This is Noah, the master builder! (sorry it’s a little blurry)

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Here’s Rosie!  This is the service window side.

IMG_0661I had to climb in and get my picture!  Oh my gosh, so amazing!  This will be super fun!

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Here’s a view of the other side.  We’ll have a little door on this side.

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Here’s one more from a different angle of that side.

IMG_0670Seriously, how cute is she?  I can’t wait to see the next phase and share it with you!  I’ll be putting together all the Kickstarter reward info and thank you pages over the next week along with finalizing details for community events I want to be part of. I am so happy you are part of this, thank you!

From the heart, Shannon