Monday, July 24, 2017

Cinnamon Scones and My Mug Obsession

One of my lovable, little quirks is that I am very particular about what I drink from.  The size and shape of glasses and cups are important to me.  That means I am very picky about the glasses and mugs I buy and use.  Today I want to talk about my coffee mug obsession and share a recipe for Cinnamon Scones.  These Cinnamon Scones pair very nicely with anything you might want to drink from your favorite mug.

The Yummiest Cinnamon Scones

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Cinnamon Scones with Cinnamon Icing
Cinnamon Scone with Cinnamon Icing

Last weekend I had breakfast at a new-to-me local breakfast place.  It is a cute little place with the yummiest breakfast, but the thing that blew me away was their coffee mugs.  I fell in love with those mugs the minute they were placed on our table.  I loved the matte black color on the outside and the bright colors on the inside.  I loved the shape.  I had to have those mugs.  I immediately started my online search.  Good news!  I found them.
The Perfect Cinnamon Scone

My New Favorite Mug

ITI Ceramic Bistro Hilo Mugs
ITI Ceramic Bistro Hilo Mugs

My mug obsession started years ago with a hand-made pottery mug that I had received as a wedding shower gift.  I loved that mug.  I'd had that mug for about twenty years until it tragically broke.  I was heartbroken and I'm not exaggerating.  It was the mug that held my coffee after the long nights when my boys were babies.  It was the mug that held my tea on those days I wasn't feeling well.  Holding that mug gave me comfort and made me ready to start my day.

I searched and searched for a replacement.  The shape was always wrong.  The size was always wrong. The weight was always wrong. Hubby found me a close replica for a birthday gift a few years ago, but that replacement mug never felt quite the same in my hands.  Something was off.  So, the search continued for the perfect mug.

I have several mugs that are acceptable stand-ins, but none that I adore.  The minute I held this new mug in my hand it felt just right.  I ordered the six-pack of these mugs with an assortment of interior colors.  That way I can use whichever color suits me on any given day.  Having six mugs means I have many spares in case any of the mugs breaks. These new mugs are nothing at all like the mug that started my obsession, but they feel right in my hands and are a cheerful way to start the day.

Coffee and a Cinnamon Scone
Coffee and a Cinnamon Scone

Another cheerful way to start the day is with these cinnamon scones.  Cinnamon has always been one of my favorite spices.  I use it every chance I get.  I even sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee every morning.  I don't remember when or where I heard it but supposedly cinnamon helps to reduce the dastardly inflammation that is the cause of so much that ails us. Since I love cinnamon it doesn't bother me one bit to eat as much of it as I can.

That is why I chose cinnamon scones as the perfect treat to pair with my new mugs.  This recipe makes a light scone with a nice crunch on the outside.  You'll love the tender texture and the big cinnamon flavor.  Make these scones when you have time to sit and enjoy them with your favorite hot beverage, in your favorite mug.

Cinnamon Scones

Printable Recipe

Makes 12
Freshly Baked Cinnamon Scones
Freshly Baked Cinnamon Scones
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

The Icing
  • 1 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • milk to get the consistency you want, 2-4 Tablespoons

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in the bowl of your electric mixer.  Add the butter and mix to combine.  The mixture will be unevenly crumbly and that is good.

The Crumbly Flour and Butter Mixture
The Crumbly Flour and Butter Mixture
Add the cinnamon chips and stir to combine. Add the lightly beaten eggs and the vanilla into the flour mixture and stir until the mixture comes together.  Don't over do it.  You just want the mixture to hold together.

The Cinnamon Scone Dough
The Cinnamon Scone Dough Comes Together
Prepare a well-floured space on your counter top.  I used my silicone baking mat dusted with flour.  You are going to measure the size of your dough, so you'll want an area that is at least 18 inches long.  Scrape the dough onto the well-floured surface. Gently roll and pat the dough into a 3-inch by 18-inch rectangle.  It will be 3/4 to one inch thick.

A Cinnamon Scone Dough Rectangle
A 3x18-Inch Dough Rectangle
Cut the rectangle into six equal squares, each 3x3 inches.

Make 3x3 inch Squares
Make 3 Inch Squares
Diagonally cut the each square in half and place on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will ensure your scones rise well and are light and tender. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

After thirty minutes bake as many scones as you like. Wrap the remaining scones individually in plastic and bag for the freezer.  That way you can have fresh scones whenever the spirit hits.  Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes, or until they are puffed and brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow the scones to cool.

Icing the Cinnamon Scones
Icing the Cinnamon Scones
While the scones are cooling mix the icing.  Mixed together 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2-4 tablespoons of milk.  You want the icing to run easily from the spoon. Transfer the icing to a small plastic bag.  Snip the corner to pipe the icing over the scones.

Serve immediately.  Warm is best...and oh, so delicious.

Essential Kitchen Tools

Colorful Ceramic Bistro Mugs
Silicone Baking Mats
Cinnamon Chips
Stand Mixer


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vintage Style Hand-Knit Christmas Stockings for Christmas in July

All the talk of Christmas in July this month has started me thinking about Christmas and traditions. Family traditions play a big part in creating a family's identity.  They enrich and give color to a family and my family is no different.

Does your family have cherished traditions? You might have traditions for celebrating birthdays.  Do you have specific clothes that have become part of your family's traditions? Weddings, christenings, and Christmas often include specific items that are worn by family members.  We've never done it, but many families dress in the same pajamas for Christmas morning.  One of my family's Christmas traditions is hand-knitted Christmas stockings.

Hand-Knit Christmas Stockings, A Family Tradition

My mom started the hand-knitted Christmas Stocking tradition for my siblings and me.  She made each of us our own, huge, wonderful Christmas stocking that was always filled to the brim with surprises by Santa.  Over the years, the tradition has expanded and been passed down.  Spouses were welcomed to the family with their own custom-knit Christmas stocking.  As grandchildren were born, Mom made each child his or her own custom-knit stocking for their first Christmas.

A Girl and Her Christmas Stocking
A Vintage Family Christmas Stocking

These stockings have become a well-loved family tradition and now the honor of knitting them has passed to me.  I have been busy the past couple of years, making custom stockings for new family members and even passing the tradition on to other families.  I like to make a special stocking as a baby shower gift for moms-to-be.

These hand-knitted stockings are large.  The ones I make are 25 to 30 inches long and about eight inches wide.  Made of acrylic yarn, they stretch nicely which makes it easy to fill them with goodies of all shapes and sizes.  I think that's why the kids in the family love them so much.  They never know what surprises Santa will be able to fit into their stockings.

The adults in the family love these hand-knit stockings, too.  We still fill stockings for the adults in the family.  Generally, spouses and significant others take over for the moms and dads when the time is right.  Theses stockings are so durable that all the adults in the family still use the same stockings they had as children.  That makes this tradition a special reminder of the good times the family has shared through the years.
Santa Christmas Stocking

I've started an Etsy store in order to share this tradition with other families.  Most of the stockings I am selling are knit following vintage 1950s patterns.  I love the vintage feel of the designs for Christmas stockings.  Because these stockings are hand knit by me, there is a very limited supply.  I have a few stockings in inventory, ready to be personalized with a name.  Those can be shipped within a week of the order.  

I also accept custom orders.  Most recently I completed an order for six stockings that replicated ones that had been knit many years ago by my customer's grandmother who has since passed.  My customer was so delighted to receive the six stockings I lovingly made for her family. I'm still accepting custom orders for 2017.  Custom orders will be accepted through September 30th for delivery in the fall. 

Three Santa Christmas Stockings
Three Personalized Santa Stockings

Santa has been the most requested style of Christmas stocking to date.  Other styles are available to order as well.  Choose from colorful stripes, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Reindeer, and a Snowman.  If the idea of custom Christmas stockings for your family appeals to you, please check out my Etsy store.  You'll find some stockings in inventory just waiting to be personalized.  I'd be happy to knit a custom order as well. To me, these are not just Christmas stockings.  They are about tradition, family, and memories.

I'd love for you to share my stockings with family and friends through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Quick and Easy Shrimp Pesto Alfredo Dinner

Weeknight dinners can be a challenge. For me, the closer I get to the weekend, the less motivated I feel about dinner planning. I'm tired, but not in the mood to go out for dinner. I want dinner to be yummy.  I want it to signal the end of the week and the beginning of a relaxing weekend.  I want it to be easy. That's when I turn to my freezer and pantry.

Shrimp and Ravioli Pesto Alfredo

Shrimp Pesto Alfredo
Grilled Shrimp Pesto Alfredo

Do you want the same?  Well, with ingredients you have on hand or a quick trip to the grocery store you can make it happen.  This Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Cheese Ravioli is slap-me-delicious but easy enough to tackle on a Friday night, or any night of the week.  I'm always pleasantly surprised when a yummy meal can be pulled together in a few minutes with just a few ingredients.
Shrimp Pesto Alfredo

Using packaged fresh cheese ravioli, or frozen, if that's what you have on hand, some cream, butter, Parmesan cheese, and prepared pesto you can make a delicious dinner that will make you very happy to be at home instead of sitting in a noisy restaurant.
Grilled Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Cheese Ravioli

This recipe uses prepared pesto.  It makes sense to keep pesto on hand in your pantry or frozen in your freezer.  This time of year, you can make your own pesto and freeze it in convenient to use cubes.  That means you'll have pesto ready to use any time of year.

During grilling season, I like to grill the shrimp rather than cook them in the sauce.  Both ways are delicious, so choose which suits you on the day you make this.  To grill the shrimp, toss them with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning and grill until pink.  The recipe below gives the directions for cooking the shrimp in the sauce.

Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Cheese Ravioli

Print Recipe
Shrimp Pesto Alfredo Ingredients
Shrimp Pesto Alfredo Ingredients
Serves 4
  • 1 pound of cheese ravioli, fresh or frozen
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound 21-25 count shrimp, thawed and shells removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh basil, chopped, for garnish

In a large pot, heat salted water for the ravioli over medium-high heat. Following the package directions, cook the ravioli to time readiness along with the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and stir in the cream and pepper. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes stirring constantly while the cream mixture bubbles and thickens slightly.

Use Heavy Cream to Make the Sauce
Heating the Cream and Butter
Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the pesto and cook, continuing to stir for 3 to 5 more minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Parmesan Cheese and Pesto in the Sauce
The Sauce Thickens with the Pesto and Parmesan Added
Add the shrimp to the bubbling sauce. Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the shrimp is pink. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Toss the sauce and pasta together. Serve immediately.

Shrimp Pesto Alfredo
Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Shrimp Cooked in Alfredo Sauce

Fast and easy enough for a Friday night dinner, yet decadent enough to serve to company.  Go ahead and invite some friends over.
Shared on Meal Plan Monday.

Your Essential Kitchen Tools

(These are affiliate links. I'll receive payment that will support the costs of this blog if you purchase using these links)

A 12-inch Skillet
Wooden Spoons
A Stainless Steel Colander

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Decadent Chocolate Brownie Cake with Hot Fudge Sauce

This Hot Fudge Pudding Cake has been a tried and true recipe for my family for many years.  It's one of the recipes I turn to when I want a homey, comfort food dessert.  It has so many yummy things going for it.  First, it is chocolate.  That puts it high on my yumminess scale.  Next. it reminds me of an ooey, gooey brownie and brownies are one of my top five desserts.  Lastly, it creates its own hot fudge sauce and any dessert with a hot fudge sauce is a winner in my book.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
I've been making this recipe at my house for years and years.  It is very easy to assemble and takes forty-five minutes to bake.  You can have a warm, gooey, chocolate dessert in about an hour so it is especially wonderful when a chocolate craving hits.

Of course, ice cream is a must have addition to this hot fudgy deliciousness.  Vanilla is my ice cream of choice.  I like to add a few maraschino cherries, too.
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

There's nothing exotic about the ingredients.  You probably have them all in your pantry right now, so there is nothing in the way of you having this for dessert tonight.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake Ingredients
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake Ingredients
Printer Friendly Recipe
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, or melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups hot water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, two tablespoons of cocoa, and salt into a bowl.  Blend in the milk and oil. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Spread the mixture into a ungreased 9x9x2" pan. The batter will be very thick.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder.  Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the pan. Pour the hot water over the batter.

Making the Fudge Sauce
Making the Fudge Sauce

 Bake for 45 minutes. You'll see the fudge sauce bubbling up around the edges.

The Baked Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
The Baked Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

When you break through the cake layer with your serving spoon you'll find the yummy hot fudge sauce. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Make it, love it, enjoy it!

Essential Kitchen Tools
This cake is so easy to make you'll need very little for tools. Here are my favorites. (These are affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  I'll receive compensation when your purchase through these links.)

If you like this recipe, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Yum.


Monday, July 10, 2017

My Classic Basil Pesto

I'm happy to say it is time to give my basil plants a haircut.  This has been a very good year for herb growing.  All of my basil plants are doing very well and I couldn't be more delighted.  I recently used up the last of my frozen basil from last year's harvest so I have been waiting patiently for the time when I could make my first batch of pesto this season.

How to Make Classic Basil at Home

Fresh Basil Pesto
My Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto has become a staple in my freezer.  Once you get used to having it on hand you never want to be without.  It works for appetizers and main dishes and is a flavorful condiment to perk up an otherwise ordinary sandwich.  Freezing my basil in individual cubes makes it very easy to keep them on hand.
Fresh Basil Pesto

Pesto Frozen in Cubes
Make Basil Pesto Cubes

Pesto is a versatile condiment to keep on hand.  It is a delicious way to jazz up a simple pasta dish.  I love to add it to bread crumbs to make a special beef tenderloin dinner.  We love, love, love pesto as a spread for freshly baked foccacia bread.  I use pesto so often that I make sure to stock my freezer with my summer bounty of homemade pesto for year round use.

Some things to remember when making your pesto:
  • Quantities are approximate. Use this recipe as a guide. A little more or less of anything just makes the resulting pesto more yours. No two batches of my pesto are ever the same.
  • While pesto is traditionally made with basil you can experiment with other herbs and leafy green vegetables as well.  For example, try kale like this recipe from The Perfect Pantry.
  • When you don't have pine nuts, substitute walnuts or almonds.
  • You can substitute Pecorino Romano cheese in place of or along with Parmesan cheese. Use what you have.

Pesto Ingredients
Pesto Ingredients

My Classic Basil Pesto

Printer Friendly Recipe
  • 5 1/2 ounces of fresh basil, about 6 cups packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Pick the leaves off your basil, wash and spin dry. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Watch them carefully because you want them to be lightly browned, not burned. Remove them from the heat when you start to smell their nutty aroma.

Fresh Basil
Fresh Basil

Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of your food processor or blender. Process until it forms a paste. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the paste while the machine is running. Stop the machine, add the cheese, and process to blend together. Taste and add salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed.

Make Pesto in a Blender
The Blender Makes Pesto Easy

Tip:  To freeze your pesto, fill the individual sections of an ice cube tray with pesto. Place in your freezer until frozen. Remove the cubes from the tray and package in zip closure freezer bags for longer term storage.

How easy is that!

We enjoyed our pesto with some homemade focaccia bread.  Oh, baby, was that ever tasty! You'll also love your homemade pesto in this Shrimp Pesto Alfredo recipe.

Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Cheese Ravioli
Shrimp Pesto Alfredo with Grilled Shrimp

Your Essential Kitchen Tools
(These are affiliate links.  I earn compensation that helps support this blog when you purchase using these links.) 
Ninja Blender
Ice cube trays
Half-cup ramekins for dips and condiments
Dip spreaders



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