Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good thing we have chickens

I had never had panettone bread until I spent Christmas with my in laws. They would get a loaf every year, and so when I went to their house for the Holidays, that was one thing I always looked forward to.

Two years ago, I had written "panettone" on my Christmas list. I was quite surprised that Christmas when I opened a large, fairly light, cardboard box. Inside was a package of panettone paper molds.
    "Oh- cool! I could try to make my own panettone."
    My mother-in-law's response, " Isn't that what you wanted?"
    "I just wanted a loaf of bread."
Ever since, I have wanted to make panettone bread. Yesterday was finally the day.

I had been looking in my cookbooks for a recipe to use and to compare ingredients. Traditionally, this bread has a lot of eggs, with orange zest and dried fruit. I went for the recipe in my Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, of course, with some slight changes. The recipe calls for both lemon and orange zest; I only had orange. Two cups of dried fruit were to be added; I used a cup of raisins and a cup of assorted dried, candied fruits. (You know the stuff you put in fruitcake? It has red and green cherries, orange, lemon, citron and pineapple. It makes the bread really colorful.)




Martha called for four eggs and three egg yokes. Yikes! This bread better be good if I have to use all that. (Good thing we have chickens.) The dough is similar to a brioche, a pretty butter yellow color.

I had to use this bowl to weigh down the page in my cookbook.


When it was time to put the dough in the molds, I did a little dance. If using a traditional metal panettone mold, you need to butter the thing like crazy, so the dough doesn't stick. The paper molds I have don't require greasing- no mess for me! It's also nice to use these paper molds because you can give the bread as a gift and not worry about getting your pan back.





Just before baking, you use a reserved egg yoke and mix in some cream to brush on the tops. That makes the bread so golden in color when it is done. Another tip about the paper mold, is the baking time is a bit shorter; I shaved off fifteen minutes of baking. To be sure that the bread is done, take its temperature. When it's 190 degrees, you're done.



I have four more paper molds and I'm definitely making this traditional Italian bread for Christmas next year.

We had it for breakfast this morning- yum!

 
*You can order the paper molds on amazon.com. Mine are by Kitchen Supply in a package of six. Maybe you can start a new tradition, too. Happy baking and Happy New Year! <3

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

nieces' and nephews' gift reveal!

I hope everyone had a blessed and wonderful Christmas! This year it came up fast and didn't really feel like Christmas in PA, especially with no snow. Nonetheless, gifts have been exchanged, WAY too many cookies and desserts had. Many people have taken down their tree, but Christmas is not over for me. This week my entire family will be reunited! (Which sadly happens once or twice a year.) At that time, I will meet a new niece, who was born in November, and cuddle with my nephew who is one (today!) Not to mention play Legos with the older ones and enjoy hearing all of them laugh as I will be tickling them a lot.  I absolutely love my family and always look forward to seeing my three older sisters.

The three dresses and two pairs of pajama pants, I hate to confess, have been completed for a good two weeks now. I know! Why didn't I share pictures of them earlier? The Holiday season has been jam packed. I wish this season wasn't so chaotic and stressful, but that's what happens when I sign up for more things then I should. (I'm working on that.)

I used my seam ripper more than I'd like to admit on the dresses and if I didn't already have the third dress cut out, I would've done a different pattern! I read the pattern wrong more than twice, and it called for a lot of hand stitching. I made it through and the third dress went A LOT better than the previous. The second and third dresses were from the same pattern, but in different sizes and fabrics (McCall's M6875)

The first dress is for my niece who was born in November. I've made this dress two other times, so I knew what I was doing (thankfully!) I thought the dress needed something to break up the bodice from the skirt, so I made a fabric flower. This dress is a 0-3 mos. size.




The second dress is the McCall's pattern. I used the same fabric as the first dress because these two nieces are sisters. I would've loved to use the same fabric for all three, but I didn't have enough to go around. This dress is a 3T.




The third dress is more of a Spring time dress because of the bright colors and I used gingham to contrast. It is a 2T with a 3T length.




I'm glad I saved the pajama pants for last because they were so quick to sew. I'd never made pants, so this was a good introduction for me. The material for both is a plaid flannel. I tried to line up the strips, but that didn't happen. The kids are four and five years old, I don't think they care at all, as long as they fit. They really don't look good on the hangers and you can hardly tell they are pants. I still needed to prove to you that I made them. :)



I wish I had some cute kid models to show these outfits off instead of a hanger. Maybe someday when I have a bigger budget or my own kids. I hope you're having a good week so far. Stay cozy <3

Monday, December 15, 2014

we started something new

Ever since we got married, my husband and I have made our Christmas cards. A few years ago when I was renting space at the Printing and Book Arts studio in Rochester, NY , I letterpress printed our cards, but usually we made wintry collages on cards and mailed them out.

Last year, we started something new. I really missed printmaking, so I decided to do a linoleum block print for our card. We wanted it to say something meaningful, but didn't know what. After flipping through an old hymnal, we decided on "Joy To the World."
Our first print from last year says, "Joy to the World the Lord is come!"


This year our card will say, "Let earth receive her king!" ...get the pattern? It will take four years to get through one verse, but if we keep it up, it will be a nice collection of Christmas prints. Maybe people will collect them? Each print will have the year carved out. I have last year's print in a frame (which got a blue ribbon for printmaking at the Sparty Fair, but I think that's because only two other people entered.)

Before I started printing, I needed to come up with an idea. Since I love fonts, I used lots on this year's card.

 
 
I traced the design using a window as my light box and did a good ol' fashioned graphite transfer onto my block. It didn't transfer that cleanly, so I went over the letters again with pen.

 

Then the carving began! It really didn't take too long to carve out, but the cursive letters were a bit tricky.



I think it turned out nice! I may add some other designs on the sides because there isn't a frame to hold it together. The sides seem a bit open. If I do add some other elements I'll post an updated print for you to see.

I need to buy my paper to print on still. Yes, I am very last minute here and I don't know what color ink to use. Decisions, decisions! What do you think? Last year, we mailed out forty cards... I better get moving! <3

Saturday, December 6, 2014

breakfast potluck

The first Sunday of the month is "Sunday School Breakfast" at our church.  People take turns making breakfast for all who come to church.  It's a joke at our church that it's called a "light breakfast" because it is quite the opposite! We've had pancakes and sausages, breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls and donuts; very filling breakfasts! It's always a delicious morning that we look forward to.

This particular Sunday is our "Carry-in Breakfast" when everyone brings something breakfast-y to share, kind of like a breakfast potluck. I always bring baked goods: breads, coffeecakes or muffins because that's within my comfort zone.

As I looked through the refrigerator, cupboards, and pantry I decided on making a carrot muffin. This particular recipe came from the recipe book my mother-in-law made me for a wedding gift.

(Said recipe book on the left)

It's the day before the breakfast, so as usual my husband asked me this morning what I was going to make for the breakfast.
   "This carrot muffin recipe looks good and I have everything for it."
   "You've never made those. Shouldn't you make something you know is going to be good?"
   "You're Mom hasn't made it either... she wrote on the card that it sounded like a good recipe."
   "Oh great..."
   "This muffin even has a frosting! What muffin has frosting?"
   My husband's response, "a cupcake."

Well, I am omitting the frosting and calling these "Loaded Carrot Muffins." They have carrot, apple, coconut and toasted pecans. All of those ingredients can't possibly make a bad muffin, right? (Of course, I used carrots from our garden!)


Loaded Carrot Muffins
1/2 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
3 large eggs
3/4 c. oil
1 t. vanilla
2 c. carrots, grated
1 large apple, peeled and grated
1 1/4 c. sugar
2.  flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. coconut
 
Mix wet ingredients and sugar. Stir in the carrot and apple. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in coconut and pecans. Scoop into muffin tins.
Oven temperature 350 degrees and makes about 20 muffins.
 
The recipe says it makes 18 muffins, but I had batter left over, so I greased a large ramekin and put the extra batter in that, which was perfect, so I could taste test it before I bring them in to church!
What would I do if the muffins were bad? It'd be a carry-in breakfast for our chickens.
 

I always use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin tins. The scoop releases the batter, so I don't need to dirty another spatula.
 
Were the muffins a success?? YES! They are delicious; definitely a keeper recipe. I love cinnamon in baked goods, especially this time of year. The muffins have a nice texture and are almost cake like. I hope people at church like them.
Whatever you have for Sunday breakfast, I hope it is delicious and homemade <3