Friday, December 30, 2011

Spicy Apple Pancakes with Cider Sauce

My mom made these for breakfast, when my friends Stacie and Monica came over for after Christmas, Christmas.  We have been doing this gift exchange for a few years now and it is a lot of fun.

My mom last made these when she was a teenager and even though they were a big hit, she seemed to gave forgotten about them until this year, because this is the first I have ever heard of them.  They are mighty good and I hope that you try them out and that they fuel some fun, like they did for me. For after I ate them, I taught my friends how to do the dance I am learning in my hip- hop class.  I should have filmed this, it was too funny!  Both friends did well... because they were born from a boombox (Step Up 3 quote).  It means they were born dancers...

Spicy Apple Pancakes with Cider Sauce

2      cups Bisquick

1/2   teaspoon cinnamon

1-1/3 cups milk

3/4   cup grated apple (about 2 medium)

Cider Sauce (below)

Beat baking mix, cinnamon, egg, and milk with rotary beater until smooth.  Stir in apple.  Grease griddle if necessary.  Pour batter by 1/4-cup measuring cupfuls onto hot griddle.  Bake until bubbles appear.  Turn; bake other side until golden brown.  Serve with warm Cider Sauce; if youwish, top with dairy sour cream.  Makes:  18,  4- inch pancakes.

Cider Sauce

1      cup Sugar

2      Tablespoons cornstarch

1/4   teaspoons each cinnamon and nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2      cups apple cider

2      Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4   cup butter or margarine

In saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir in apple cider and lemon juice.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in butter.  Makes: About 2-1/2 cups.

1971 General Mills, Inc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Book in Review: The Kitchen House

3 out of 5 stars, I liked it

I recently finished reading a book called 'The Kitchen House' by Kathleen Grissom.  My good friend Josette recommended it to me.  At first I was drawn to it, but then I had a dry spell and I found myself not interested in it.  However, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day I pushed forth and finished the book.  There were some good plot turns here and there, but I must say that I was extremely unhappy with the way the book ended.

I had planned out so many ways for the story to go and they just didn't happen.  Ha ha.  I guess I should have written it myself if I wanted that outcome.  If you want a quick read with a different angle:  White Irish immigrant lives/ works with slaves on a plantation, then pick this book up.

Here is the synopsis on the back of the book:

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time

On Christmas Eve, I made my way to my mom's house.  We then ventured out for lunch, via our feet, carrying us to the downtown area.  We ate at Oscar's, because it is best.  They gave me two little Christmas bushes, in pots that say 'joy'.   Fun and cute!  After lunch, we headed to the bank which brought us by the newly renovated town square.

My Christmas bush.

And what did we find here?  Only three young musicians laying down some fat jazz versions of anyones favorite Christmas songs.  We vowed to stop there on our way back.

Our short journey back from the bank to the square found us at a bench with a homeless man.  I chose to give him one of my Christmas bushes and gave a very jovial 'Merry Christmas!'.  Boy did a toothless smile light up his face!  I never knew something so small as a bush sprinkled with glitter could bring so much joy.

My mom and I moved on to the music... a saxist, a bassist, and a drummer.  Hey man, that's all you need!  They sure were great.  We hung out for about an hour.  In the middle of our music enjoyment, my little homeless man walked into the square, proudly carrying his Christmas bush.  He saw us, and again said, "Merry Christmas".  I think giving him that bush is one of the best things I have done as of late.

Later that evening as we looked at the Mission Inn Hotel Christmas lights, my mom recounted the experience and we both got happy again, just thinking about it.

A real reindeer!

Creepy much?


This totally made up for the bad attitude I got from my older and only brother.  I got him three nice long sleeve shirts/ sweaters for Christmas.  I thought they would be really nice on him.  All he did was complain about them.  Oh, they are too small. (They fit him perfectly).  Why the blue color Tiffiny?  Do you notice I don't have any blue in my wardrobe?  You know, if you wanted to help, you could have just given me money.  Really?  REALLY?!  How about a 'Thank You'  I think that would do just fine.

No, I did not get one of those...  really...

I do believe that is the last time I purchase something for him, with money I could have saved... the Lord knows it could be useful in many other places... summer mission trip, etc.

I hope that your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa brought (brings) you Joy!  May it be with you throughout the coming year.

My mom makes these cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning.

Wow!  Somehow Chloe let me hold her long enough to get this photo!

And!  She let me put a bow on her head!  This never happens...  It truly is a Christmas miracle!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Homemade Christmas Crackers...

With Cracker snaps and all!

Ever since I saw 'About a Boy' (fabulous movie and book by the way), I have always wanted to make crackers.  And so, this Christmas I did!  I think they turned out well.  You can stuff them with all different kinds of goodies.  For my friends' nieces, I put a little jump rope in one and stickers in the other, also candy!  I must say that for the adults, candy was my go to item.  I did this 100% with paper hats and a sentiment (quote, encouragement, or note)!

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and, let each New Year find you a better man." - Benjamin Franklin

My mom just opened her cracker!

I think I might make this a new tradition!  Have you ever made crackers before?  Been given one?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Attendance Brownies

I made the brownies below for one of my classes, because they had perfect attendance for two weeks straight!  But... I forgot them in my fridge, so we ate them on Thanksgiving and then I made the second recipe of brownies and my students loved them. (Both recipes found on Tasty Kitchen.)

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15×10 inch pan with parchment paper or spray the pan generously with cooking spray.
For the brownies: Mix together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and water, and whisk well, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together; stir this into the batter. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
For the Cheesecake Swirl: In a clean bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat just until it’s mixed in.
For the Chocolate Swirl: Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat, until melted and smooth stirring every 30 seconds for a total of about 90 seconds. Or melt over low heat on the stovetop stirring continuously.
Drop alternating tablespoons of cheesecake and chocolate mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through the top to give it a swirled effect.
Bake on center rack of your preheated oven until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, and then chill for an hour or more. Cut into 16 bars.

Double Chocolate Brownies

½ cups All-purpose Flour

⅓ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

¼ teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoons Baking Powder

1 cup Good Quality Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1 stick Butter, Melted

1 cup White Sugar

2 whole Eggs

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

½ cups Roughly Chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder; mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, pour in the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk just until combined. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overmix.
Spread the batter into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan and sprinkle the top with walnuts.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into brownies comes out with a few crumbs. Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.