Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peachy Muffins w/ a Butter/Ginger/Nutmeg Crumble!

This is a variation of my blueberry muffin recipe, and is just as, if not more, delicious! It's very easy to make.

Peach Muffins w/ a Butter, Nutmeg & Ginger Crumble
(makes a dozen; can be doubled)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (i prefer kosher salt)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup peaches (remove skin and dice - about 2 medium sized peaches)

crumble topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter; cubed (1/2 stick)
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Grease your muffin cups
3. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder
4. Place oil in a measuring cup, add the egg, and add enough milk to fill the cup
5. Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients (create a well in the center)
6. Fold in peaches

(set aside to make crumble topping)

- combine all topping ingredients together and 'crumble' it with a fork (you can use a food processor if you prefer)

7. Place prepared muffins in a pre-heated oven for 18 minutes.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple Butter - Autumn, Here We Come! :)

Nothing makes it feel like fall like apple butter and preserves! Preparing for the fall is what we ants are supposed to do, right? Ha! As someone who cooks and loves to bake, I've never even considered the idea of canning until recently, and let's just say that I think I found another true passion.

The frugality in me is extremely happy with this new 'obsession' because it gives me the ability to have a skill that will come in handy when times are rough, which has been quite often lately. It also gives me the ability to give my family what it needs for much less money. I am a stockpiler when times call for it, and the times have been calling my name, quite loudly lately.

So, my first attempt at canning has been a SUCCESS!!! The sterilization process is what scared me the most...because I have no urge to poison the ones I love, at least not today! (Ha!) After experiencing the process of making apple butter and canning it, I feel much cozier now with the process and am proud to say that there will be much canning going on in my kitchen and my future!

Here is the recipe for my Apple Butter...Hope you Enjoy!

Apple Butter
~(makes 3 pints or 6 half pints - which is the size I went with)
~This recipe can be doubled (which is what I did)

4 lbs Apples (about 16) - I used med. green apples 1 C apple cider vinegar 2 C water 4 C sugar (you will use 1/2 C sugar for each cup of puree) salt 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. ground cloves 1/2 tsp. allspice 1 lemon - zest & juice

Step 1: Cut apples into quarters (keeping the core & peel - needed to release pectin - although I did get rid of as many seeds as possible)

Step 2: Add to large pot - Apples, Vinegar, Water

Step 3: Cover, bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes (around 40 if you double the recipe), stir a bit, then remove from heat

Step 4: Ladle the mixture into a food mill or chenois seive and remove pulp

Step 5: Add puree to a pot and add 1/2 C sugar for each cup puree (I ended up with 14 C puree, so used 7 C seems like a lot of sugar, but this is very important for the canning process...sugar helps keep bacteria away!)

Step 6: Stir to dissolve sugar, add all the spices, lemon zest & lemon juice

Step 7: Cook uncovered on med/low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning on the bottom (1 1/2 - 2 hours)

Jar Sterilization:

*There are several ways to sterilize your jars, but I found this to be the easiest:

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees, once preheated, place rinsed/dried jars on cookie sheet and keep in the oven for 10 minutes

Step 2: Place rings and lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, let them soak for a bit (while the jars are sterilizing

Step 3: Remove from oven


Step 1: Put hot apple butter in hot, sterilized jars and add the lid.

Step 2: Place the rings around the top (not too tight because you're going to want air to be able to get through during the hot water bath...basically the rings are there to keep the top in line)

Step 3: Make sure your boiling pot has a rack on the bottom (so as to not allow the jars to touch the bottom of the pot) and place sealed jars in pot.

Step 4: Cover jars with water, about an inch to an inch and a half

Step 5: Bring to a rolling boil...once at a rolling boil the processing time begins.....

Step 6: Process for 10 minutes in the hot water bath (ensures a good seal)

Step 7: Remove jars from hot water bath (tongs are preferred here seeing as these jars are HOT!) and place on the counter (on a towel) and let sit for 12 hours. You will begin to hear the clicking of the lids sealing....what a fabulous sound!!!

Now your batch of Apple Butter is ready!!!! (Since these are canned you can store these for up to one year outside of the fridge! )

Hope you enjoy your batch as much as I have enjoyed mine!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Great Distraction & Delicious Hummus

In this day and age I am absolutely disgusted by the obsession and pin-pointed anger regarding this whole 'Ground Zero'/mosque debacle. I understand why people might possibly be upset, but why the mass news coverage? Why all the attention when we have more important things to focus on rather than where someone wants to build a building? It seems like a mass-distraction to me.

Do we not have a war going on where our men and women are losing their lives daily? Do we not have children across the world (including this country) so hungry that their bellies are distended and displayed in ads across America? In my mind, as a Christian, these are the things we should be focusing on, not on this worldly, petty issue.

Ground Zero is a place of sadness where many lost their lives, but it is not a place of worship, nor does it represent the Christian faith. The Twin Towers were not a function of Christianity, but of money, commerce, and greed world-wide (including countries of the Muslim faith). I have heard over and over, and fully believe, that we as human beings (including us Americans/Christians) hate/fear what we do not understand. Humans are willing to wreak as much havoc as possible when it comes to concepts/ideas that do not pertain to them (heh, sounds somewhat like the loonies who decided to take thousands of people's lives) and if it weren't for them and their hate/fear we wouldn't be having this 'discussion'.

But as I babble and rant all I can think about when I think of Muslim Centers, mosques and this issue is hummus, baba ghanoush and falafel. (Heh, I partially blame a friend of mine because every time I make mention of the deliciousness of hummus or falafel his comments jokingly have an air of jihads, etc.) I know it is probably wrong of me but I've always thought humor eased the pain of many, and so when I think of Islam and of the Middle east, their food always comes to mind, because it is all so delicious!

So in honor of this 'Ground Zero/Muslim Center' debate, I offer up a wonderful hummus recipe given to me by my dearest friend, and altered a bit to my family's taste.


1 can of chick peas, drained & rinsed (or 16 oz. dried chick peas, cooked)
1/4 cup of Tahini/sesame paste
1 - 2 Tbs of lemon juice (to taste)
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp garam masala (my homemade garam masala is delicious...will post recipe at later date)
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil
dash of water as needed for desired consistency


1. Put chick peas, tahini, lemon juice into a food processor & puree until smooth/creamy texture.
2. Add a dash of water & process to desired consistency. (we prefer extremely smooth texture)
3. Add in seasonings and combine well
4. When ready to serve, top with a little olive oil

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sorghum Cookies and Family Traditions

I look forward to October for several reasons. The first is that, of course, my birthday happens to land in this wonderfully comfortable month, so I might be ever-so biased. Secondly, October represents the beginning of Georgia's yearly cooling-off period. The leaves begin to turn and the nights begin to cool down to a bearable pattern where you can take a deep breath without being drowned by Georgia's famous humidity. The third, which also leads to the tastiest reason, is my weekend getaway with some of my favorite women in my life. My mother, sister, and I make our annual trip to Whitwell, Tennessee, home to the most wonderful arts and crafts festivals around, a.k.a. the Ketner's Mill Fair. Getting to have girl time is a pretty rare thing for me, being surrounded by boys all the time, so I cherish every moment.

I love fall festivals in general, but this one has all the rest beat, at least in my opinion. I can't go to this fair without purchasing tasty treats and jarred perfection. When we leave, my loot generally includes a huge jar of Sorghum (or two), some actually prepared on site (mules and all), a few different types of honey (gotta love the local honey), several types of preserves and jellies, and a few other trinkets and treasures I just couldn't live without. I figure since this is a once-a-year kind of thing, I've got to stock up while I can.

I also love the time I get to spend with my mother and my sister. My niece generally tags along as well, but since she's a girl and all, we don't mind. All other children are left with the men in our lives, to get the most out of our girl's weekend. This year I"m hoping there will be a new addition to our 'Crew'. My sister and her husband have finally been given the joy of helping raise my brother-in-law's first daughter, who is eleven years old. She will make a great addition to our little gathering of women. To think of it, she's the next generation, so hopefully she will help carry on this wonderful family tradition.

The highlights of the fair are of course the jars of exquisiteness I purchase (which have to last me a whole year), but also the apple fritters, the spiral-cut potatoes, the blue-grass music, and the general atmosphere. On the way home (if we hadn't done so before we arrive), we generally stop at several year-end yard sales collecting other people's unloved items that will become treasures to us. This just so happens to be my favorite gathering of the year and one of the events I look forward to all year long.

With all that said, I've decided to share the most wonderful outcome of the Ketner's Mill Fair (other than my ever-growing relationship with the women in my life); my sorghum cookies! Without said festival I would have never thought to make such yumminness, and I wouldn't be able to share them with you.

With every scrumptious batch I make I think of my mother, my sister, my niece, and all the great times we've had going to the fair and enjoying each others' company. They remind me of fall and its ability to cool down and overheated South and they remind me of the goodness that comes from hard work and perfections. (Sorghum has got to be one of the nectars of the gods, honey of course landing in spot number one). I hope you enjoy my cookies as much as my family and I do, and I seriously think that my husband and son would complain more about our annual girl's trip if I didn't bring home the goodness to make these awesome cookies! I make up my weekend-absence with warm, soft sweetness.

Yummy Sorghum Cookies:

-Preheat oven to 350, grease cookie sheets, (position rack in upper third of oven)

Whisk together thoroughly:
3 3/4 cp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves (if I don't have any ground cloves, I grind whole ones in the coffee grinder)
1/4 tsp salt

Beat on Medium: (until fluffy and well-blended)
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 2/3 cup sugar

Add: (beat until well-combined)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sorghum
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp finely-grated lemon zest

Stir flour mixture into sorghum mixture, until blended and smooth. Pull off pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll cookies in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Space cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press each cookie down slightly with a fork (I do two ways for a criss-cross look). Bake 10-13 minutes (rotate cookie sheet halfway through cooking for even cooking). Once cookies are baked remove cookie sheet from oven and let sit for a bit before transferring the cookies to a cookie rack. (this allows the cookies to harden a bit.)

*I've decided to post this recipe now because I plan on making this wonderful recipe for the easter-egg hunt/picnic on Saturday. I can't wait to share these wonderful cookies with my church family! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

On a Lighter Note - Baklava!!!!

The yummiest Greek dessert ever! I've loved this dessert ever since I was a child, having it at Greek restaurants and always wanting to know how this delicious layered dessert is put together, and well, after buying the package of phyllo dough to make the equally delicious spanakopita, there was just enough dough left for such yumminess! Enjoy!

(what remains of said dessert - forgot to take beginning pictures)


1 box of phyllo dough (16 oz)
1 pound chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1 cup butter (melted)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I used the tsp. of vanilla as well as a tsp of orange extract....for extra yumminess)
1/2 cup honey

- Heat oven to 350
- butter a 9x13 inch pan (i used glass and it worked just fine)
- chop the nuts and mix w/ the cinnamon (set aside)
- place 2 sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly
- sprinkle 2-3 Tbs of nut mix over the top
- place 2 more sheets of dough
- butter thoroughly
- add nut mixture
- Repeat this process until you are almost to the top
- last layer is 6-8 layers of dough, (buttered thoroughly between every 2)
- go ahead and cut into your pieces (whether you want triangles, squares, or rectangles...makes it easier for the sauce to soak in later on)
- place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes

Boil the sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla (and orange extract if you'd like) and honey, simmer for 20 minutes (I suggest making the sauce about half an hour into the dough baking)

Remove the baklava from the over and immediately pour the sauce over the top (it will bubble with deliciousness!) - It is ready to eat when you are!!!!

I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as I do.... :) :)

From One 'Insured' Person to Another

Where has the Health Care Reform Bill gone? Has it been forgotten about? Are the Democrats so scared of an unknown senator from Massachusetts that they've dropped the ball in fear of losing? Do they only have an attitude of 'let's only care about if it it wins'? That's a horrible way to lead a country. I would much rather see a group of people fight so diligently for something they truly cared about and lose rather than see a group of people so scared they might lose that they just give up and go hide in a corner. I want courage in my government. I want someone willing to fight for the American people's well-being in charge, not a bunch of people who chose to cower because of the possibility that their bill will not pass.

Health care reform is a much needed entity in this country. If everyone else who has insurance has the same issues with their insurance that I do, then we really need reform. I currently pay out the wazoo (yes, that is an exact monetary term...heh) for my insurance and can find nobody in my area who will take it. What kind of crap is that? Oh wait, there are a few places who will take it but are not currently taking new patients unless they are pregnant. What!? So basically to get my flu or pneumonia taken care of I have to be knocked up first? Crazy! In a way that's a very irresponsible thing to say to the Georgia public. Apparently, Georgia ranks pretty high in the amount of unwanted pregnancies and now you're telling people that the only way to get a doctor in the area is to be pregnant? Let's reward the irresponsible while we ignore the ones who work their rear-ends off, pay a ton for their insurance, and actually need medical assistance?

Someone suggested I go to the emergency room. Heck no! This was in no way an emergency and the way my insurance is set up, I'd be charged a $100.00 co-pay if I am not admitted because of said 'emergency'. One of the problems in this country is that people are 'forced' to go to the emergency room for non-emergencies. This is due in part to doctor's offices not accepting new patients. An Emergency Room is for an emergency. No wonder it takes hours and hours to be seen in one. There are so many people who go who have no need in being there.

Another issue I have with my insurance is the 'tobacco surcharge'. Don't get me wrong, I understand the logic behind such a charge (those who smoke will need more medical care, etc. than those who don't smoke and will thus cost the insurance company more), but in my case (I can't speak for others) I rarely visit the doctor (with the exception of this go-round of ickiness and even then didn't get to see anyone) and am very rarely sick. How do the insurance companies choose one 'vice' while ignoring all others? Why isn't there an alcohol surcharge (you know, charging more for insurance to those who drink heavily? have liver problems due to alcohol? etc.?) Why isn't there an 'Unhealthy Eating' surcharge? Don't tell me those who consume mass quantities of McDonald's several times a week don't have medical issues. Don't tell me those who eat unhealthily have no health problems. I mean, this is crazy.

Some have told me that it's because there is no good that comes out of cigarettes and all the other 'issues' I've discussed at least have one positive verses all the other negatives. I have to disagree. Nicotine is a drug, albeit a legal one. Ibuprofin, acetametophin, and all other pain killers are drugs as well and people do get hooked on them. But guess what, there's not a surcharge for those. What I'm trying to say is the effect that nicotine has on me is the same effect those medications have on people. They have aches and pains and they take away the pain. I have stress and the desire to pull out my hair, and well a cigarette produces enough serotonin to make me happy. I know this is a weak argument, but all I'm trying to say is that why punish one negative life-choice while not punishing all of the others? I can smoke a pack a day and will show up to work wide awake and ready to start the day. An alcoholic will drink however many six packs and then the next morning call their boss to tell them they won't be in that morning because they're feeling sick.....So you tell me, which of the two has a more negative outlook on someone's life?

Anyway, I truly believe that health care in this country needs to be reformed. I think that insurance companies should regulate the doctor's offices that 'accept' their insurance (especially seeing as I've learned that many lie about not taking an HMO when in fact they do because they've signed a contract with said insurance company and they just don't want to have to deal the paperwork involved or don't want to have to deal with waiting for the insurance company to pay them). I think that the medical field should not be about dollar signs but should be about fixing people. I think that if you make one person pay more for bad life choices then I think you should charge everyone else extra for their bad life choices.

So, I say Democrats, quit cowering in the corner because of some nobody from Massachusetts and push your bill as far as it will go. People will respect you more if you stick to your guns and fight one battle all the way through, whether you win or not, instead of giving up because you might not win. This country needs a strong backbone and if you can't even be strong for your own people on one issue then how do you think you appear to the rest of the world?