Posted in Food, Gardening

Harvesting Honey

Today we had the pleasure of experiencing our first honey harvest. Our bees have been busy visiting fields of clover and Queen Anne’s Lace over the past several weeks. After watching hours of video focused on harvesting honey and rendering beeswax, we finally took a leap of faith and carefully extracted the liquid gold produced by our very own bees.

Here’s a step by step look at the process:

We carefully swept the bees off of the short, capped honey frames to prepare for extraction.

We set up the extractor and a screened sieve to remove the honey and filter out the wax and other unwanted items. A clean and organized area is imperative. We had buckets of soapy water with sanitizer and tarped surfaces in the extraction area.

After the extractor does its work (we have a hand crank version), the gate can be opened to pour unfiltered honey into a clean, food-safe bucket. The sieve and filter will take out the impurities.

We cleaned and sanitized our honey containers prior to setting up our bottling station.

The filtered honey is ready for bottling. We used 12 and 16 ounce jars. We wanted to try a mixture of plastic and glass jars.

We were able to bottle 12- 12 ounce, 12- 16 ounce, and 2- 4 ounce jars. What a delight to get so much honey from just 8 short frames.

I order a few different labels from Amazon to finish off the process. I think I’ll order a set of more personally printed labels for next year.

Now, it’s time to render the filtered wax to make our own beeswax blocks for future projects.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast

Fresh Blueberry and Cream Cheese Breakfast Braid

Nearly every Saturday, I peer into my over crowded refrigerator to see what left-over ingredients I can pull together to make a few quick weekend meals. This past Saturday, I wanted to make a warm coffee cake for the breakfast table. As I poked around the fridge and rummaged through various containers, I found all the ingredients needed to make this delicious, fruit-filled braid. If you’re looking for a quick baked treat, this is the one for you.

Fresh Blueberry and Cream Cheese Breakfast Braid

1 package crescent dough sheet

1 pint blueberries

8 ounces package of cream cheese, softened

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon flour

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup milk

¼ teaspoon almond extract

½ cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a slightly floured surface, carefully roll out the crescent dough into a thin, rectangular sheet. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until smooth and creamy.

Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the center of the crescent roll sheet. Leaving about an inch and a half of dough on either side of the mixture. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour, lemon zest, and teaspoon of sugar. Carefully spread the blueberries over the cream cheese mixture.

To prepare the dough, make diagonal cuts into the dough from the exterior and cut about 1 ½” into the center on the long ends of the dough. Make roughly 8-10 cuts on each side. Pull the strips of dough over the top the blueberries, alternating sides. Transfer to a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

While it is cooling, whisk together milk, almond extract, and powdered sugar to create a glaze.

When the blueberry braid has slightly cooled, drizzle the glaze over the top and serve.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch

Cherry Jubilee Scones

I just love when the kids return home for the weekend. After graduating, they seem to have settled into different parts of the United States. This weekend, our town held their annual spring run making this a great kickoff to one of my favorite seasons.

Friday evening, after a long week of work, I was disappointed in myself as I hadn’t had the opportunity to plan a few meals and gather some groceries. This morning, as my pack of runners was out enjoying the spring race, I jumped into action and scoured the freezer, fridge, and pantry. To my surprise, I actually had the fixings for a great mid-morning breakfast. My pantry was chocked with items that I had unknowingly pushed to the back of the shelf over the course of many weeks. A tall container of old fashioned oats, an unopened package of dried “cherries jubilee” and some turbinado sugar sat on the shelf. I quickly opened my baker’s cabinet and scooped up the flour, sugar, almond extract, and leavenings. I remembered a blueberry scone recipe that I had so I rummaged through my blog of past posts and tweeted the recipe to make it work. To round out the breakfast, I found a bag of frozen hash browns, a pound of bacon, a carton of eggs. Opening the carton, there were only three… Grabbing my phone, I quickly sent a text to the group requesting they stop by a mini-mart to purchase two cartons of eggs. Scurrying around the kitchen, I completed each dish. I would then quickly cook the scrambled eggs as everyone showered after returning home. Laying everything out on the kitchen counter, plates were filled and tummies were satisfied.

What a delight… the scones were a hit… everyone enjoyed the meal as they slathered a good dose of butter on the warm scones and gobbled them up. Before they disappeared, I set aside a few for a Sunday visit with extended family. I’m sure I’ll be making these again.

…Great memories shared as we welcome the first days of spring!

Cherry Jubilee Scones

1 1/2 cups whole oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons butter, cubed

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine oatmeal, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks and cut in the butter with the flour mixture until crumbly and well blended. Stir milk and extract into the flour mixture until just combined. Lightly fold in the pecans and cherries. On a lightly floured surface, collect the dough into a ball and pat into a large circle about 1″ thick. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of turbinado sugar (optional). Cut into 8 wedges, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, eggs, Food

Farmhouse Breakfast Squares

During the Christmas holiday, I assembled quite a few casseroles to feed the army of family members that were home for the holidays. Many of these recipes had their fair share of carbohydrates nestled throughout. I, on the other hand, try to watch my carb intake as I always seem to have severe migraines when I consume refined sugar and loads of carbs. This recipe is quite simple to assemble and chocked with flavor. A bit of Frank’s hot sauce added to the egg mixture is a welcome addition to the recipe. A few teaspoons add a hint of flavor. If you like a spicy egg dish, feel free to kick up the heat by doubling or tripling the sauce. One other trick, try to seed and core the tomatoes before dicing them. This helps eliminate a soupy casserole.

The serving sized squares are compact and great as leftovers. Super for breakfast lunch or dinner. Serve along side a cup of yogurt with granola, a field greens salad, or a few hash browned potatoes.

Farm House Breakfast Squares

1 pound breakfast sausage

12 large eggs

½ cup heavy cream or half & half

1 ½ cups cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 medium green pepper, diced

½ cup onion, chopped finely

1 medium tomato, seeded and cored

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the breakfast sausage for about 10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until fully browned. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9” baking dish, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, and hot sauce. Add the pepper, onion, tomato, and cheese; whisk thoroughly. If desired, set aside a few veggies and a bit of cheese for garnish.

Pour the egg mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle cooked sausage evenly over egg mixture distributing all ingredients. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until center is set. Cool slightly and cut into serving sized squares.

Optional: Garnish with a bit of cheese and leftover chopped veggies. Salt/pepper to taste.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Casserole, eggs

Sausage and Broccoli Quiche

I’m not sure how many of you use your library card on a regular basis, but if you do, your bound to find an endless array of options when borrowing items these days. One of my favorite library options is the online platform set up so that I can borrow books, movies, music, or magazines on my iPad. Recently, I borrowed the winter edition of the Taste of Home magazine (one of my all-time favorite magazines). One of the ads within the holiday edition depicted a festive page with a recipe for Sausage Quiche. I quickly bookmarked the page and added the required ingredients to my grocery list.

When I first made this simple recipe, I used a 2-quart, round baking dish that was quite deep. I followed the recipe exactly as written. When I served the quiche to my family, we thought the original recipe was a bit bland. When making another for a New Year’s breakfast, I added a bit of hot sauce and some broccoli. I also used my deep-dish pie pan.

This isn’t just for breakfast… I found my children grabbing a slice and munching on it cold. I also wrapped a wedge in cellophane and popped it into my husband’s lunch to be heated later. Served warm for brunch is also a great way to enjoy this dish. Happy New Year, Everyone.

Sausage and Broccoli Quiche

1 lb. package ground pork sausage, browned

½ cup onions, minced

1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 cup all-purpose baking mix

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sausage in lightly greased 9” round, deep-dish pie plate (2 qt. baking dish); top with broccoli, onions and cheese.

Beat eggs, milk, half-and-half, hot sauce and baking mix with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over cheese.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

If you don’t have a 2-quart baking dish, you can substitute a 13×9” pan and bake for 20–25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

I’ve pasted the link for the original recipe below:

https://www.jimmydean.com/recipes/breakfast/sausage-quiche

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Casserole, Casseroles

Green Chili Bake

We had an office brunch this past week. Everyone was asked to contribute a dish. My secretary baked this simple, yet delicious casserole made with eggs, cheese and chilis. Everyone raved over the wonderful flavors so I immediately requested the recipe.

This weekend, all of our kids have come home for the holiday. Trains, planes, and automobiles have brought them in from other states. I am one proud Mama! I so enjoy having everyone back under one roof. My husband had been traveling in Germany for work all week; he too, flew home for the reunion.

This morning, I woke early to assemble a buffet of breakfast fare… sausage, bacon, pancakes, homemade maple syrup and a selection of fruit rounded out the menu. I also threw together the Chili Egg Bake to add to the mix. Once again, everyone loved the dish. Creamy, smooth and spicy… a great combination.

Happy holiday week to all. This girl is truly thankful for a simply wonderful life!

Green Chili Bake

3 eggs beaten

1 small can green chili’s (I use mild)

1 8 oz pepper jack cheese

1 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese

Shred cheeses. Mix with three beaten eggs and green chilis. Pour into a greased 9×9″ baking pan. Bake 30 minute at 350 degrees or until set. Cool slightly and cut into squares.

Here’s the original recipe…

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch

Gingerbread Waffles

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter took the train in for a weekend visit. On this crisp fall weekend, she decided to rise early to make a bountiful breakfast for the family. The Gingerbread Waffle recipe was on the menu. The aroma in the kitchen was enough to pull everyone out of bed saying, “What is that delicious smell coming from the kitchen?” Sure enough, she had a tall stack of delicious looking waffles perched on the kitchen counter and ready for the taking. Eggs, coffee, and hash browns rounded out the meal. It’s always fun to have M come home for the weekend! She’s an excellent cook and we so enjoy seeing her.

We’ve made this recipe several times over the last couple of weeks. They are great to keep in the fridge to microwave for weekday mornings. Top them with homemade apple butter for an autumnal treat!

This recipe is from the cookbook entitled, Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts, by Kitty and Lucian Maynard. I’ve made some changes to the recipe to add a little more flavor and of course, to substitute our own homemade maple syrup; removing the corn syrup in the original recipe.

My daughter doesn’t have a waffle iron of her own… So, guess what Santa may be bringing to her this year? Ho,ho,ho… gingerbread waffles!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Casserole, Casseroles, eggs

Simple Crustless Mexican Quiche

I really try to keep my carb intake to a minimum. Here’s a great recipe that fits the bill when I want something flavorful, fluffy and delicious to start my day. After this casserole has slightly cooled, I slice the dish into 3” squares so that I can quickly pop a portion into my lunch bag or to have as a mid-morning snack. My family can slip a square or two between two slices of wheat toast for a tasty little sandwich.

Simple Crustless Mexican Quiche

10 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 (7 ounce) can green chilies

2 cups cottage cheese

1 lb. Pepper Jack cheese, grated

Using a whisk, beat the first four ingredients until smooth. Stir in melted butter. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased, 9 x 13″ baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes.

Slightly adapted from Kitty and Lucian Maynard’s recipe list below. One of my favorite cookbooks, Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

Scrumptious Granola Clusters

We recently took a weekend visit to Northern Ohio. We wanted to spend time with family, watch our nephew play some amazing high school football, and enjoy the rolling hills and colorful treelined byways while visiting a few local Amish community shops.
When in Ohio, I try to take the opportunity to stop at Marc’s, a local discount store that can offer some amazing deals. It’s “hit or miss”, but I often stock up on coffee, staples and seasonal trinkets that are placed on entry area shelves listed at rock bottom, close-out prices. 
After carefully searching the bountiful shelves, I ended up buying a few color coordinated cutting boards, silicone trivets, and pin-striped double oven mitts to give as Christmas gift sets this holiday season. I often pair kitchen items with wholesome baked goods for a more personal holiday gift. I also bought large boxes of flavored k-cups, cereal, and oatmeal.
I purchased several boxes of this low-sugar cereal with this granola recipe in mind… Kashi Original GoLean has lots of fun shapes and textures nestled within the box.
I also use our own maple syrup to sweeten the mix and it’s sticky properties help to form the crunchy granola clusters. Pair this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and sweet crunchy apples for an awesome breakfast combination. What a way to start the day!
Scrumptious Granola Clusters
4 cups dry, sugarless breakfast cereal ( I use Kashi GoLean Original pictured above)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal, nuts and seeds. Stir to blend.
In a small saucepan, combine the oil, maple syrup and/or honey, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot mixture into dry cereal mixture. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will continue to crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool for 10 minutes before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the (optional) dried fruit. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Food

Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf

This week, I scheduled a community meeting that was to take place at a local library. After rechecking my calendar invite, I realized that I had arrived a bit early, so I took this opportunity to stroll through a selection of cookbooks that had been carefully selected for a main aisle display. My eyes immediately fixed on an older book showcasing recipes from quaint country inns and bed & breakfast establishments. Thumbing through the pages, so many of the recipes seems quick, easy, and scrumptious. Knowing that my meeting would be starting soon, I grabbed my library card and borrowed the book entitled Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts by Kitty and Lucian Maynard.

Returning home, later that day, I realized that I wanted to make so many of the recipes, I simply had to purchase the book. I typed the title of the cookbook into the Amazon search bar… low and behold, they had several used copies for purchase (priced very low). I bought the first and second editions and I am waiting on their arrival.

This recipe comes from the page pictured below. The only change that I made was to add a handful of chopped walnuts to the already simplistic ingredients. I am always looking for recipes that will help to use up the stash of overly ripe bananas that I have tucked in my freezer. This one fit the bill. Lots of flavor with very little fuss…

This is a great loaf to freeze or slice and package. My daughter was heading back to Chicago on the train, so I sliced her a few pieces to nibble on throughout the week.