Peter Piper Pumpkin Picker — October 28, 2020

Peter Piper Pumpkin Picker

So this is the one and only time all year that all of us, or perhaps most of us at least, buy a pumpkin.

But how many of us would actually recognize the Great Pumpkin if we actually did see it?

1.PassionHalloween should be as fun as possible for your entire family. Don’t be like the lady that we all hate on the movie The Grinch who gets out her tape measure and actually measures the pumkin before buying it.

Never forget that the holidays—not only Halloween, but also Thanksgiving and Christmas—are supposed to be fun, Be passionate about spending time with your family, not spending more money than your neighbors did on the orange globe sitting on your front porches.

2. PerfectionThe pumpkin that you choose doesn’t have to be perfect. Choosing one with bumps and lumps have character.

3.Personal Preference…The perfect pumpkin is that one pumpkin that you or your child could never imagine leaving the PSL without—even though it isn’t the shape or size that everyone else is attracted to. Follow your heart, not the crowd.

4. PigmentationIt is okay if your pumpkin is not a bright orange like the ones that you see on children’s movies and books.

Even though many will say, “the darker the color, the better the pumpkin,” use your common sense here…most of us can tell if a pumkin is the “ugly duckling” of the pumpkin patch.

Just make sure that the top of the pumpkin, specifically around the stem, is not dull, because this indicates frost damage.

5. PitchThe pumpkin that you choose should have a deep, echoing sound when you pick it up, hold the pumpkin next to your ear, and knock on its side with your knuckles.

The louder the sound, the better the pumpkin.

6. PostBy “post” I simply mean the stem, but couldn’t come up with another synonym for the word “stem” that didn’t seem vulgar.

Anyway, the pumpkin that you choose should have a hard, dark green or black stem.

Squeeze the stem to test its firmness. If the stem is soft to the touch, it’s not an ideal pick.

The stem should not bend and break when you pick it up…that would be about like the trunk of the just-chosen Christmas tree snapping in two before you get out of the Christmas Tree lot.

7. Potholes…Gently press on the pumpkin with your finger to make sure that there aren’t any soft spots that indicate that the pumpkin has already started to decay and won’t last much longer.

The pumpkin should be firm all over.

Even though the pumpkin may look perfect from the outside, you do not want to start carving your pumpkin, only to find that it’s rotten.

8.  Profile…Choose an oblong pumpkin, as opposed to a round one. Round or oval pumpkins are easier to carve, have more workspace, and a bigger cavity filled with more seeds.

Choose a pumpkin with a flat bottom that sits well.

9. ProportionIf you are going to be using your pumpkin for baking and cooking, avoid those big pumpkins that are typically sold to be carved into jack-o’-lanterns, regardless of how appealing they may seem.

Those bigger pumpkins are definitely not the best when it comes to cooking and baking. In fact, bigger pumpkins are typically very stringy, bland, and watery.

Instead look for pumpkins that weigh from four to eight pounds and that are labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”—such as Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina , Cinderella, and Fairy Tale.

If only big carving pumpkins are available, choose a winter squash like butternut squash instead, if you will actually be cooking or baking with it.

10. Punctures and Pimples…Choose a pumpkin that has no scrapes, brown spots, bruises, cuts, or holes on its surface. Any of these “punctures and pimples” will make your pumpkin rot faster.

11.Purpose…Choose the thickness of the walls of your pumpkin according to what you will be using for. If you are going to be making a jack o’ lantern, choose a pumpkin with thin walls. If you are going to be cooking with it, choose a pumpkin with thicker walls.

Making the Perfect Apple Scones — August 30, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Scones

The perfect apple scones are fresh from the oven….a truly scrumptious breakfast treat…deliciously spiced with the perfect amounts of cinnamon and sugar…buttery and moist with crisp crumbly edges…consisting of soft flaky centers and crunchy golden brown exteriors.

These perfect apple scones are a great reminder that fall and cooler weather are right around the corner.

The perfect apples scones are also very easy to make…so let’s get started…

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Apples

To make the scones you will need about one heaping cup of apples. If you use too many apples, the scones will not maintain their shape because they will contain too many apple chunks and juices.

As far as which variety of apple to use, either use your favorite apple variety or whatever you happen to have on hand.

If you’re buying apples specifically for making the scones, good apple varieties to try include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji.

Another thing to keep in ind when you are choosing which variety of apples to use is whether or not you will be glazing your scones. If you will be glazing your scones, you will want to use a tart apple, such as a Granny Smith. If not, you will want  to use a sweeter apple, such as a MacIntosh.

You will need to peel, core and shred the apple before aking the scone.

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Other Ingredients

  • 1/2C brown sugar
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • ½tsp baking soda
  • 2½tsp cinnamon
  • 2C flour
  • ¼C butter, chilled
  • ½C heavy cream or buttermilk

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Topping

3Tbsp sugar

1/2tsp cinnamon

water or milk, as needeed for prope4r consistency

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Prep Work

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

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Making the Batter

Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon—in a large bowl Now stir together the liquid ingredients…Shred your apple. Add the shredded apple, then the milk. Mix until they form a soft dough. Add more flour if the dough gets too sticky, Combine the two. Knead a few times, working some extra flour into it until it is barely sticky.

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Shaping the SconesScrape the dough onto a floured parchment or pan.

Divide into two balls of dough….

Flatten until both circles are about 6″ in diameter and 3/4″ thick, using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water,

Place them on a well greased baking sheet.

Carefully separate the wedges away from the center until there is about 1/2″ space between their outer edges.Sprinkle with brown sugar and/or cinnamon.

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Making the Topping 

Stir the sugar and cinnamon.together. Brush each circle with a bit of water or milk. Sprinkle onto circles.

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Freezing the Scones

Now place the scones in the freezer for about thirty minutes. This serves several purposes, including…

  • allowing them to rise higher
  • giving the the best texture and highest rise
  • making the scones a bit flakier
  • making the scones more tender
  • relaxing the gluten in the flour

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Baking the Scones

  1. Bake for 15- 20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove and cool….When the scones are cooled,, whisk together the glaze ingredients until they are smooth. Drizzle over the scones then let harden completely…
  2. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked…Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days…
  3. Bake the scones in a preheated 375°F oven for about 30 minutes…Scones are best served warm. They’re delicious as is, but add butter and/or jam (or apple butter), if you like. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Making the Perfect Apple Muffins — August 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease your muffin pan.
Stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir together the wet ingredients.
Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingrefients to the dry.
Stir all the ingrdients together.

Fill the muffin liners 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Making the Perfect Apple Cookies — July 19, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Cookies

Making the Perfect Apple Cobbler — July 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Cobbler

The perfect apple cobbler with a juicy and sweet filling similar to the filling of an apple pie…made with the perfect amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg, giving it a perfect flavor…a super fluffy and buttery cake-like biscuit topping…served warm with Blue Bell vanilla bean ice cream on top,,,and best of all perhaps, it is so very easy to make.

 

 

It’s a five step process…1.  slice the apples…2. toss them with spices…3. layer them in a casserole dish…4. top them with a biscuit crust…5. bake.

 

 

So let’s talk about how to make an old-fashioned apple cobber that would make your grandma proud…one that will soon become a tried and true family favorite.

 

 

 

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Crisps vs Cobblers

But before we get started, let’s talk about the difference between a cobbler and a crisp.

 

 

Crisps usually typically have a crispy streusel-like topping—such as rolled oats, diced nuts, butter, and flour. Crisps are usually topped with a streusel like topping….whereas cobblers are topped with more of a cake-like or biscuit-like batter.

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The Apples

Other great options include Gala, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady.
Combinations…Using a combination of different apple varieties—such as gala apples together with honeycrisps—will add some depth to your cobbler. 

 

You will need three pounds of apples…which translates to about five or six.

 

 

 

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Making the Topping

Making the Perfect Apple Bread — July 10, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Bread

To freeze...Wrap in plastic and aluminum foil..can be frozen for up to three months.

Making the Perfect Baked Apples — July 8, 2020

Making the Perfect Baked Apples

The perfect baked apples are an apple lover’s dream…and a chef’s pleasure to make whenever they are too lazy, like me, or don’t want to take the time to make an actual apple pie.

 

 

 

The perfect baked apple pie is a sweet, warm, and delicious apple….topped with delicious spices like cinnamon, fresh ginger, and nutmeg…and finally served with a generous portion of vanilla ice cream or homemade caramel sauce (see recipe below)…

 

 

 

The perfect baked apple a a simple, old-fashioned dessert that has all the deliciousness of the filling of an apple pie…yet takes a whopping five minutes to make.

 

 

 

Not only are baked apples definitely a treat to eat, but they also fill your home with a great aroma.

 

 

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Gather Your Ingredients

1/4C brown sugar

1tsp spices—such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

2Tbsp butter

3/4C boiling water or apple cider

7 apples

2Tbsp lemon juice

Optional Ingredients…1/4C chopped walnuts or pecans, chopped raisin, dried cranberries

Choose the Right Apples

In order to make baked apples, guess what you must first have…

 

Apples…duh(?!)

 

But how do you decide which apples to choose?!

 

You want to make sure that you don’t choose an apple that will turn to mush so fast they explode out of their skins…but you also want to choose an apples that stays too firm.

 

Instead the apple that you choose to make your baked apples should be able to become nice and soft inside, but still maintain its shape.

 

Typically the best apples to choose are firm, crisp and tart apples—such as Gala apples, Fuji apples, and Granny Smith apples.

 

You’ll need one apple per person….which means that you can cook anywhere from one to one hundred…if you have a baking dish that will actually hold one hundred apples.

 

 

 

 

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Hollow Out Your Apples

Peel and core apples.

 

 

First use a paring knife or apple corer to carefully remove the core of the apple…and then to thinly slice the apple lengthwise.

 

 

Be sure not to slice all the way through the apple…if you do, you will have sliced apples…not an apple that you can actually stuff with sugar and spice and everything nice…instead leave about 1/2″ of the apple intact at the bottom.

 

 

Remove the core and seeds. You can do this with either the sharp edges of a 1/2tsp measuring spoon or a small melon baller.

 

 

Place apples in big enough dish that will hold all of your apples without the apples touching each other.

 

 

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Fill Your Apples

Now for the sugar and spice and everything nice…

 

I guess you could really fill each apples with whatever you want…whatever spices, butter, sugar, currants, chopped raisins, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, walnuts

 

Stir these together in a large bowl andf then add a pinch or two to each apple.

 

Top each stuffed apple with 1/2 Tbsp butter,

 

 

 

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Bake Your Apples

Pour about 1″ of liquid around the apples. This not only will keep the apple from charring and sticking to the baking dish as it bakes, but will also help make your apples turn out softer—such as water, apple cider, a splash of bourbon or brandy.

 

Bake the apples at 350°F oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, until they are soft, but not mushy. Test them by piercing them with a fork.

 

 

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Serve Your Apples

Once your apples have finished baking, take them out of the oven and let them sit for five to ten minutes.

 

 

Baste the apples with the juices from the pan.

 

 

Then serve with something cold and creamy—such as heavy cream, ice cream, or yogurt.

 

 

Baked apples are best when served fresh, but leftovers can last in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer up to a month.

 

 

To reheat your baked apples, either cook them  in the microwave or bake at 350 until warmed through.

 

 

Making the Perfect Stuffed Bell Peppers — May 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Stuffed Bell Peppers

Making the Perfect Raspberry Muffins — April 27, 2020

Making the Perfect Raspberry Muffins

Making the Perfect Baked Cod — January 24, 2020

Making the Perfect Baked Cod

Ever since my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have tried not only to add antioxidants to our diet, but also choose foods that supposedly are diabetic-friendly.

The perfect baked cod is has a mild taste and is smothered with with the perfect amounts of butter and lemon juice,

 

 

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Ingredients

  • ¼C melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 4 portions cod fish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon basil

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Prepping to Cook

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a baking dish.

 

 

 

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Seasoning the Fish

Combine melted butter, Parmesan, flour, garlic, basil,  onion powder, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a bowl.

In another bowl combine flour, spices, salt and pepper.
Pat fish fillet dry.

 

Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture…and then in the flour mixture.

Shake off excess flour.
Lay fish in prepared dish.
Top each piece of fish with a slice of lemon,

 

 

 

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Baking the Fish