Sunday, September 23, 2012

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

It is a chilly fall morning.
What sounds good?
A warm muffin from the oven.
An almond poppy seed muffin to be exact.
About 15 years ago Otis Spunkmeyer 
used to make these delicious muffins.
But for some reason they quit.
We loved them and couldn't find them anywhere. the internet we went 
in search of a recipe that tasted similar. 
Amongst all of the lemon poppy seed muffin recipes, 
we found this very close version to the almond kind.
Not that we don't like lemon. In fact,
 lemon bars are a personal favorite of Debbie's. 
But when it comes to muffins,
we want almond with our poppy seed.
The muffins are very simple to make.
 Basic ingredients.
 Measure and pour.
 Mix until smooth.
 Add the poppy seeds.
Stir until the seeds are mixed in.
And bake.
Wonderful fresh from the oven,
but also awesome the next day.
In fact, Dakota ate this batch of muffins 
for breakfast every morning for a whole week!

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Print recipe
1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 cup oil, we used Canola
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream, we used light
3 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.
In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, oil, and sugar.
Mix well.
Add the eggs, almond extract, vanilla, and sour cream.
Stir until smooth.
Add the flour mixture a little at a time until combined.
You can do all of this by hand or with a mixer.
Stir the poppy seeds in by hand.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. 
Bake for about 16 - 23 minutes.
Store in a sealed container.

 We found this recipe on years ago and have loved it ever since.
Hope you do too.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cheese Soup

Fall is here.
Football games, warm sweaters,
 jumping in leaf piles, pumpkins, bon fires, and
 homemade soup.
Nothing says fall like a big steaming bowl of soup.
With a few slices of crusty bread to go with it.
If you have never tried Cheese soup 
then you will be surprised. 
 It isn't like a cheese dip or the cheese on nachos.
It really is soup.
It has delicious celery and onion in it.
Top with a little bit of shredded cheddar 
and a sprinkle of paprika.
Start with a few simple things.
Most of which you probably already have.
 Chop an onion.
Slice a stalk of celery.
We like the "crunchiness" of sliced celery, 
but you might want to dice the celery
 instead for tinier pieces.
Saute the onions and celery
 in melted butter until tender.
Add flour, pepper, and mustard.
Stir in the milk and chicken broth.
Add shredded cheese.
Stir until melted.
 Cheese Soup
3 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced or diced
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/4 cup milk
 (It is creamier with whole milk but we use 1%)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can chicken broth 
2 - 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a saucepan.
Add onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour, pepper, and mustard.
Let that cook for about 1 minute stirring the whole time.
Add milk and broth.
Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Boil and cook for about 2 - 3 minutes.
Stir in cheese.
Heat over low heat, stirring until cheese is melted.
Top each bowl of soup with a little bit of shredded cheese and sprinkle with paprika.
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple Bakers

A couple of Saturdays ago we visited this cute little shop, Woodyard's,( in Jacksonville, Illinois and found the cutest little apple bakers.
Charlotte Woodyard told us that they are hand thrown and fired by a local potter,
 Kirby Drennan in Virginia, Illinois.
They are lead free, dishwasher safe, microwavable, and oven proof! 
Now don't get us wrong we love our recipe for Apple Pie but
these are the perfect size for when you are craving apple pie,
 but only want one serving.  
We bought two different colors and tried them out.
It was very easy to make.
We mixed a little less than1/4 cup brown sugar,1 Tbsp. flour, 
1/2 tsp.cinnamon, 1/8 tsp.nutmeg, and a dash of salt. 
Stuff the mixture in a peeled apple that we cored. 
Push a few walnuts into the sugar mixture 
and a few around the inside of the baker.
Topped with 1Tbsp.(cut into fourths) butter and 1 Tbsp.water.
Then cooked it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high. 
(You can also bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes)
Now you have a 
delicious baked apple...
just for you.
Now we don't know about you
 but Debbie's favorite part of an apple pie 
is the crust.
So with that in mind we decided to try
 to make a mini apple pie in this little baker.
And boy did it work! 
Yum, yum, yum!
We did everything the same.
Then used Pillsbury Ready Made Pie Crust to top it with.
 Make sure when you cut out your circle
 to cut it big enough to fit over the apple.
We cut a couple little slits in the top
 to vent. Then baked it in the oven 
at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.
Ahhhhh...there are no words!
After you take that first bite try putting 
a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the opening. 
Check out this awesome little shop!
303 W. State Street 
Jacksonville, Illinois

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad sandwich.
A nice simple sandwich. 
But there are many, many....
many different versions of this tasty salad.
We have tried quite a few ourselves.
Sweet ones,
tangy ones,
ones with almonds, with apples,
with olives (pretty good),
with veggies, without veggies, 
with eggs, 
shredded chicken or chunky chicken.
But this is our favorite.

Chicken salad is very versatile.
It can be served on a croissant, on a bed of lettuce,
rolled up in a wrap, or with your favorite sandwich bread.

It is super simple to make.
 Start with cooked chicken.
You can cook your chicken breast 
 in the microwave or in a skillet
 with a little oil.
We have used grilled chicken 
leftover from a cookout.
Cut your chicken how you prefer. 
Chunks, shredded, or chopped.
 Now what makes this salad crunchy is the veggies!
We like celery, cucumbers, and radishes.
 Add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and dill.
 Stir until well mixed.
Refrigerate to let all of the flavors mix together.
Not sure if that is a real word but that is what our little guy says when he eats something he likes.

Crunchy Chicken Salad
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken
 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup radishes, sliced then cut in half
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
 1 1/2 tsp dill
dash of salt and pepper

Mix all of ingredients together.
Chill for 1 - 2 hours.
Serve on croissants, 
in wraps, or with your favorite bread.

For extra flavor dress it up with 
a few dried cranberries and pecans. 
Debbie loves it this way...Dakota doesn't.
To each their own...chicken salad, that is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple Pie

After a month and a half of being gone, we are back!
 And what a way to comeback...Apple Pie! 
Oh yeah!
Nothing screams reunions, county fairs,
 and cookouts like apple pie. 
(It even screams fall is coming if you listen closely enough.)
Flakey pie crust, tangy apples, 
cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg...oh my!
Top it with a BIG scoop of ice cream
or whipped cream 
or Debbie's favorite...a slice of cheese.
Yes, we said cheese.

 Here we go.
Some crusts call for butter.
Some for shortening.
We like to combine the two.
It works.
Cut in your butter and shortening
 into your flour mixture 
until it is crumbley.
 Like this.
 Add your water one tablespoon at a time 
until it can be formed into a ball.
Divide the ball in half.
Roll one half out on a floured surface.
Put it into a pie plate.
The old wooden rolling pin was a gift to Debbie's mom, Beverly, from her (Beverly's) grandfather on her wedding day. He said, "Use it to keep your new husband in line."
 He was just joking...we hope! 
Peel your apples,
slice your apples,
and sweeten your apples.
Mix well to make sure they are all coated.
Pour the apples into the bottom pie crust.
Roll out the remaining crust 
and place it on top of the apples.
Trim and crimp the edges.
Don't judge!
Our crimping skills leave much to be desired...
but it tasted so good we can over look that!
Cover the edges with foil so they won't get too brown.
Remove the foil towards the end baking.
 Apple Pie

2 cups flour
3/4 cup white Crisco
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. sugar
5 to 7 Tablespoons cold water

Pie Filling
5 to 6 apples, (we prefer Granny Smith),
peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4" thick
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup nutmeg

To make the crust:
Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and the nutmeg.
Mix in the Crisco and butter.
Work it in with a fork until crumbly.
Add the water just until the dough holds together in a ball.
Pat it out into a disc.
Divide in half.
Roll one half out on a floured surface for the bottom crust.
Save the other to roll out for the top crust.
Put it into a pie plate.

To make the filling:
 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a bowl combine all of the filling ingredients with the apple slices.
Toss well to coat.
Put the apple mixture in the pie crust.
Top with the remaining rolled pie crust.
Trim and crimp the edges.
Cut a few slits in the top pie crust.
Cover the edges with strips of aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes 
until light brown and bubbly.

Now grab some ice cream


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