Thursday, September 29, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of you participate in 3 day walks, Breast fests, fundraisers or some other event, me, I bake in support of Breast Cancer awareness month.
With the statistics of 1 in 8 women affected by breast cancer, I didn't just want to repost my story about my friend and co-worker, Gwen Leighty, who lost her battle with disease. I wanted to remember and pay tribute to her once again.
Gwen was a real go getter at work. She always seemed to be on mission and I guess she was as our chief fundraiser. Always on the job to find the next be donor. She was still fundraiser and working when she could during her fight. She was always looking out for the staff. When we needed funds for a staff event she was right there asking what we needed. Never hesitating to make sure we had what we needed.
One fall before her untimely death, she gave me some antique gardening books and tubers of irises from her garden. The irises were planted right away and the next spring bloomed in to the softest shade of a bluish violet. The books are still on my shelves and the irises are still thriving. When they bloom in the spring and as I pass them in the yard I smile and  think fondly of a friend and dear co-worker.

So these cupcakes are for everyone who has been touched by this disease. They are the copycat of Hostess cupcakes and I'll blog about that latter this month.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

National Apple Dumpling Day

Many people rejoice the arrival of September, kids go back to school, Pumpkin Spice Lattes arrive in coffee shops everywhere, the weather is cooler and less humid and apples make their appearance at farmers markets.
I for one love September, I hate the heat and I do suffer, so when the cooler weather arrives I savor it.
September 17th is the holiday to celebrate the Apple Dumpling! Yes, there actually is a food holiday to celebrate the apple dumpling. In fact there is a food holiday for everyday. It's a way to celebrate all things food.

To celebrate the apple dumpling I made, apples dumplings of course. I used the recipe including in my King Arthur Flour catalog. Recipe can be found here King Arthur Flour.

I made the dough first and from the start I knew it was not going well my butter was warm and I really over mix the dough. I was right, the dough was not flakey at all  and boy was it tough! It took a knife to get to the apples, which by the way came out perfectly soft and sweet. They were well seasoned with the perfect sugar cinnamon combination.

I quickly fixed the problem by using my homemade vanilla ice cream that I just happened to have on hand. Cold ice cream on apples quickly makes you forget the crust is rather inedible and is a great combination to the hot sweet apple. 
Next time I'll be careful and stick to my pie crust recipe. Now that apple season is  just getting started there will be other opportunities, I can redeem myself. So let's never speak of this again!      

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

End of summer pesto

The cricket's chirps become more numerous and louder in late August, the days are less humid and the sun sets a little earlier everyday. It's a sure sign of the end of summer and the end of the basil growing in pots on my front steps.
But then again, it means I need to get busy and make pesto. If you are like me, you've been reading a  lot about of “Pesto Mouth”.  This happens when you eat Pesto with pine nuts (mainly from China) and end up with a bitter mouth for days and possibly weeks. 
I didn’t want to take a chance with my basil crop so I opted to make the substitution with toasted walnuts. I was lucky to come into some sample bags of California Walnuts while attending IFBC in Sacramento this year. Thanks California walnuts!
It is a very easy recipe to make, 5 minutes tops. And what an easy way to prepare a Sunday night supper. Pesto on noodles, pesto on a poached chicken breast, pesto in the refrigerator, and pesto for days!   

The recipe is so simple and quick, maybe 5 minutes and you let the food processor do all the work. Pesto freezes well. If you use ice cube trays they can be divided into single serving sizes just perfect for a quick and easy pasta lunch or dinner.  If you plan on freezing it omit the cheese until you make it.


* 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 cup of pecorino cheese
* Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts evenly on cookie sheet, toast until lightly browned and fragrant,  8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.  Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

* If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

* If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Pesto can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.