Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

20140225-063152.jpg
This past weekend, as I sat on the bleachers watching the boy’s sectional swim meet, my dear friend, Cindy asked if I had taken the time to make her Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins. I thought about it for a minute and said I wasn’t even sure that she gave me the recipe. She said that I had “liked” it on her Facebook page so I must have seen the recipe. Well, shortly after I arrived home, I asked M if she might be interested in making the muffins for her lunchbox this week. She agreed that the recipe sounded great. Last night, after her distance track practice, M threw together the ingredients for these delicious muffins. Wow, they are incredibly delicious! We packed them in an air-tight container so that, hopefully, she will have them for the rest of the school week. Thanks, Cindy, for a fabulous recipe! It’s a keeper!

Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until thoroughly blended.
Coat muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or use paper liners) and divide batter among 18 mini muffin cups.
Bake for 11- 13 minutes or until muffins are cooked all the way through.
Allow to cool before serving.

Machine Embroidery – Towels

20140223-220719.jpg
Every year, about this time, I volunteer to embroider the state towels for our boy’s and girl’s high school swim teams. Today I spent the day embroidering towels for next weekend’s state event.
Towels are often tricky to embroider so I thought I would take you through the process that I use to make sure my machine embroidery looks clean and concise. Remember that it’s very important to stabilize your work so that the stitching sits on top of the fabric instead of burying itself in the nap of the towel. The stabilizer will also ensure a solid foundation for the design.

20140223-221336.jpg
Make sure to choose a thread color that compliments the fabric color. I used maroon thread against the camel colored towel to signify our team colors…maroon and gold.

20140223-221500.jpg
Hoop a piece of tear-away stabilizer in the embroidery hoop.

20140223-221613.jpg
Carefully spray the stabilizer with a temporary adhesive made specifically for fabric projects. I really like the Sulky brand spray adhesive but my JoAnn Fabrics doesn’t seem to carry it anymore.

20140223-221716.jpg
Next, fold the towel in half, length-wise, right sides together. Center the towel over the hoop, carefully placing the fold at the center register marks.

20140223-221840.jpg
Open out the towel and smooth it in place. Secure a piece of water soluble stabilizer on top of towel, fitting inside the hoop.

20140223-222007.jpg
Slip the hoop into the embroidery module and stitch your design.

20140223-222104.jpg
After you’ve completed your design, remove from machine, trim threads and tear away the stabilizer.

20140223-222200.jpg
Remove excess soluble stabilizer, I use a burst of steam from the iron to clean up any remaining bits left behind.

20140223-222301.jpg
Here’s the finished product. I am currently working on my 12th towel and still have a few more to go. Happy Stitching!

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

20140217-071519.jpg

With busy weekend activities, sporting events, and altered work schedules out of the way, we were finally able to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday. The suggestion of a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant was a welcome treat. While dinner was taken care of by the restaurant staff, we decided to choose a movie and gather at home to share a homemade chocolatey dessert.
This is a great last minute recipe as there are only three ingredients involved. Water, cake mix and premium cocoa. That’s it. The light airy texture of the angel food cake, mixed with the rich chocolate flavor of the cocoa make for a delicious valentine treat. A few scoops of French vanilla ice cream and a scattering of berries make this dessert a bit more decadent. What a wonderful way to spend a quiet evening with the family!

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

1 pkg. (14.5 to 16 oz.) angel food cake mix
1/2 cup premium baking cocoa
powdered sugar (optional)
Fresh berries (optional)

Preheat the oven according to cake mix package directions. In a large bowl, carefully combine cocoa with angel food cake mix. Prepare and bake the cake mix according to package directions. Finish cake by drizzling with icing or sprinkling with powdered sugar; garnish with berries.

20140217-072053.jpg

Hearty Pepperoni Pizza Soup

20140213-212636.jpg
A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she had enjoyed a cup of pizza soup when visiting a local restaurant. It sparked a memory of a hearty soup that I had made years ago. So I headed to my trusty files to see if I could track down the recipe. I was quite pleased when I found what I was looking for.
As I began to assemble the ingredients for the recipe, I remembered that I had an interesting ingredient in the fridge that I hoped would be a flavorful addition to my soup recipe. You see, I have grown quite fond of a new item called basil paste, that I found in the produce section of the grocery store some time ago. It’s flavor is so similar to the wonderfully unique taste of fresh basil that we pick in abundance during the summer months, here in the states. A dollop of this paste stirred into a piping hot bowl of soup just transforms the flavor into something along the lines of a pizza margherita; one of my favorite pizza recipes.

20140213-214243.jpg
Like much of the country, we in the Midwest, are experiencing some mighty cold temperatures this winter. (I feel like I am cold all the time.). After making this soup this past weekend, I carefully packed it into serving sized containers so that I could carry it to work along with a salad for lunch. There’s something about the fresh hearty flavor and its piping hot state that just warms me to the core. I find myself counting the minutes until lunch time. When paired with a salad, and maybe a slice of crusty bread, this soup makes for a warm and comforting meal.

Hearty Pepperoni Pizza Soup

1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups water
15 ounces pizza sauce
8 ounces sliced pepperoni, finely chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon basil paste

In a large saucepan, sauté Italian sausage, green pepper and onion until onions are translucent and sausage is no longer pink; drain. Add water, pizza sauce, pepperoni, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir in basil paste and top with Parmesan cheese.

Valentine Shortbread Cookies

20140208-082224.jpg
Every year, when the swim season is at its peak and our swimmers are getting ready for the big championship meets, the girl’s team picks a secret buddy to surprise with a week’s worth of little gifts.
This week, M and I scoured the shelves of the local discount stores to find little trinkets and goodies to pack into colorful bags, each marked with an inspirational swimming quote. In the early morning hours, the girls sneak into the pool locker room and place the goodie bag in front of their “buddy’s” locker. It’s all in good fun and a welcome release from the daily grind of swimming yard after yard in the pool, during the long winter months. Yesterday, M surprised her “buddy” with a beautiful container full of Valentine Shortbread Cookies and a few other little trinkets.
These cookies are kind of over the top in the “sweets department”. The recipe includes lots of creamy butter and a load of sugar. Certainly not something you’d want to munch on everyday. But for this special occasion, and for the upcoming Valentines Day holiday, maybe this is the cookie you’d like to make and share with your sweetheart!

Valentine Shortbread Cookies

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups flour
1/4 cup Wilton sprinkles + extra for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Carefully add flour and mix well. Gently fold sprinkles into batter. Using a small ice cream scoop, form cookies and place on baking sheets. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass or with slightly damp fingers. Lightly pat remaining sprinkles into top of cookies. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze when cooled.

20140208-082327.jpg

Yummy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

20140206-061536.jpg
There is nothing like walking in the door after a long day of work knowing that dinner has been simmering in the crock pot all day and the aroma of barbecue fills the air.
These past few weeks, I’ve been working long hours and the unbelievable weather has made for some long, white-knuckled travel, here in the Midwest. Coming home, realizing that dinner is nearly ready is a saving grace.
Pork roast can be found at your local grocer, usually at a decent price, when it’s on sale. I try to stock up on the long, lean roast by slicing it in chunks about 6-8″ long; enough to fit comfortably into the crock pot. I wrap the meat well and pop it into freezer bags to be stored in the freezer for satisfying crock pot recipes. Use your favorite barbecue sauce for this recipe. We like Sweet Baby Ray ‘s. It seems to be just the right flavor to suit my family.
Stay warm everyone!

Yummy Crock Pot Pulled Pork

1 (4 pound) pork roast
2 cups barbecue sauce ( reserve 1 cup)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 extra large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoons dried thyme

Spray bottom of slow cooker with cooking spray. Put the roast in the cooker and pour in 1 cup barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar and broth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on High for 5 to 6 hours.
Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices. Add reserved barbecue sauce for extra flavor.

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

20140201-221838.jpg

When I was first married, I used to spend my Saturday mornings running to local garage sales looking for various pieces of furniture, dishes, baking pans, etc., to fill our new home. My husband worked his share of Saturday hours, so I would plan to visit what I felt were the best sales in our historic Chicago neighborhood while he was away. Browsing through the garage sale items, I loved looking for unique old baking pans and muffin trays. Many had unusual patterns or were made of great, durable materials. They had a quality that was unmatched when comparing current brands on the market. Kitchen utensils from years gone by also caught my attention. Depression glassware and Fiestaware were my favorites and I collected every piece I could find.
My garage sale days are over now but when all was said and done, over the years I had collected, among other things, nearly twenty loaf pans for baking quick breads, meatloaf, Irish soda bread, and yeast breads.
You may wonder how it is that I have use for such an amount of baking pans. Well, I like to bake things in large quantities. I often bake several batches of cookies, muffins or loaves of bread so that I can do it once, wrap it, freeze it, and have a supply on hand for a good while.
This recipe for pumpkin bread freezes just perfectly. While the loaf is moist and flavorful fresh out of the oven, it seems even better after it is frozen and thawed from the freezer. I like to switch up the dried fruit in the loaf, often using whatever is on hand. Great substitutes include raisins, currants, diced pineapple or finely chopped apples. Mix up the nuts too, if you’d like, chopped pecans work great in this recipe.
If you prefer muffins, scoop batter into paper lined mini-muffin pans and sprinkle with wheat germ. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, 2-9X5″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients, add sugar and mix until well blended. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a separate bowl. Stir in nuts and dried fruit. Pour into the pumpkin mixture; mix until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans. Sprinkle wheat germ evenly over batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

20140201-222012.jpg