Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Cookies Galore



Holiday Cookies Galore

I have strayed from my WEEKLY SCHEDULE.  However, I just wanted to share with you my homemade holiday cookie compilation - ENJOY!









HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Homemade Orange Syrup



YES that top left pancake did get a little dark (still tasted delicious though)!  And I think oval pancakes taste better than round ones   ;-)

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Homemade Orange Syrup

Orange and Sweet Potato is another wonderful flavor combination.  The fresh orange juice combined with the malty sweet potato flavor is perfect for breakfast and will refresh your senses.  I'd also like to suggest having this breakfast with coffee or cranberry juice (cranberries, orange and sweet potatoes - even better combination). 

Sweet Potato Pancakes
                                                                                                              Printable Recipe
1 egg                                                                         
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato (already baked or boiled - leftover is fine - make sure they have been peeled)
1 cup flour (an extra 1/4 cup of flour might be needed - it all depends on the water content of the sweet potato and whether you boiled it or baked it)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter (melted and cooled)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt 



Whisk together the egg, milk, sugar, butter, vanilla and sweet potato (see small picture above on the left).  With a wooden spoon stir in the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.  The dough will be quite thick for pancake batter (see top right picture). 

NOTE:  I make the orange syrup before I fry the pancakes.



Now drop a ladle of pancake dough on a preheated frying pan (I dot each pancake with a little butter because I like a thin crisp outer layer on my pancakes - omit the butter if you don't want that crisp layer).  Flip each pancake once and heat until done - now your pancakes are ready for the orange syrup!


Homemade Orange Syrup

1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups orange juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium saucepan - stir the sugar, cornstarch, flour, cinnamon and salt together.  Slowly add (while stirring) the orange juice and water and keep stirring until sugar is disolved.  Now add in the orange zest.  (The syrup should look cloudy like the picture below). 
Orange syrup should look cloudy before it is heated.

Place the saucepan on the burner at medium temperature and heat until it boils (stirring all the time).  Boil for about 3 minutes or until the syrup becomes transparent as seen in the picture below).  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter.

After boiling - the orange syrup will become transparent (look at the difference between the two pictures.


The syrup is ready for the pancakes!  ENJOY!
(this syrup can also be used on regular pancakes).
This syrup is best served warm - so I always keep it warm in the syrup carafe seen above.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day



Boxing Day

What exactly is "Boxing Day"?  - Yes, it's the day after Christmas but WHY - what does it mean?

My first thought was: "We are returning those boxes that we received on Christmas Day for something that we really wanted."

My second thought was: "We are fighting (or boxing) the crowds in the Mall for the day-after-Christmas sales."

Both are wrong - "Boxing Day" actually originated in Jolly Olde England.  It was the Christmas holiday for tradesmen and women in the "servanthood."  They had to work on December 25th and spent Christmas day making and serving Christmas dinner to their "Lords and Ladies."  On December 26th these tradespeople would celebrate Christmas and receive gifts from the upper class that they had served the day before.  In modern day England - December 26th has become a bank holiday - "Boxing Day" is also observed in other commonwealth nations like  Canada and Australia. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day - Magi

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.  'In Bethlehem in Judea' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written:
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' 
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.'  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with this mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." Matthew 2: 1 - 12

Stars are amazing - I'm sure we have all spent hours looking at the night sky in search of the "Little Dipper", "Big Dipper" and the "North Star."  I have only seen the "Aurora Borealis" (northern lights) once in my life, many years ago and that memory has stuck with me for these many years - I still get chills just thinking about that magnificent display.  Just imagine what it must have been like to see the Star of Bethlehem - so marvelous and glorious that it guided the three wisemen to Jesus. 

My Bible Commentary states that since these verses talk about Jesus the "child" as opposed to Jesus the "baby" - this suggests that the Magi visited Jesus many months after his birth.  How impressive that the Magi - who were educated and wealthy - knew that Jesus was the Messiah and even money couldn't buy what Jesus brought.  Of course I am talking about SALVATION. 

What a wonderous gift we have in Jesus - God's only Son, who was born and who died for our sins so that we might have everlasting life!  Merry CHRISTmas!

Advent Wreath
The First of Advent - Joseph
The Second of Advent - Mary
The Third of Advent - Baby Jesus
The Fourth of Advent - Shepherds

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Warmth




Christmas Eve Warmth

A picture is worth a thousand words - so I thought I'd share thousands of words in pictures about the warmth of Christmas Eve.  Remember the real reason:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6




















Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chai Tea Made from Scratch



Chai Tea Made from Scratch

This is an herbal version of the traditional Chai Tea that you might buy in a tea shop - this is naturally caffeine free.  I drink this every night before I go to sleep and it is so soothing and relaxing.  I have a pot (or pan) of this Chai Tea at the back of my stove at all times - it stores well at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  I add a little water every night and warm it up when I want to have some - so simple, affordable, healthy and long lasting.




From the top and then going to the right: Ginger, Cayenne Pepper (or Chili Pepper), Cloves, Black Peppercorns, Cinnamon Sticks and in the middle: Star Anise

I am NOT a doctor but I have researched these ingredients and here are some of the health benefits that I have found:

Ginger Root - is relaxing, aids in digestion, it is good for your equilibrium and for inner ear issues..... and much more.

Cinnamon - is good for your blood sugar, aids in lowering cholesterol, helps relieve indigestion and colds.

Cloves - used in dentistry and helps with tooth pain, anti-bacterial, reduces joint inflammation and some even claim preventative against intestinal cancers (again - I'm NOT a doctor)

Peppercorns - increases stomach activity and digestion, it has antioxidant and anti-bacterial effects.

Chile Peppers or Cayenne Pepper - increases circulation and heart health, cancer preventative, aids in weight loss and is great for the intestinal tract.


Star Anise - this is actually the spice that they extract "Shikimic Acid" from - which is used to make the antiviral drug "Tamiflu" (which has been used to treat the Swine Flu).  It also decreases abdominal cramps and expells mucus.


The Recipe:                                                                        Printable Recipe
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns (whole)
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 star anise
2 dried cayenne peppers (or chili peppers) (If you don't like spicy hot - then you may omit this pepper - it's so good for you though!)
1 small lump of fresh ginger root (washed and any bad spots cut out)

Place all of these ingredients in a stainless steel pot and cover with 5 to 6 cups of filtered water.  Boil for about 10 minutes and then turn off the burner.  Allow this tea to steep overnight on the back of the stove (Make sure that your burner is turned OFF!).  Then the next day your tea is ready for drinking - simply warm it up when you desire.  Add a little more water whenever you take some tea out and keep it topped off and ready for the next time you want some Chai Tea. 

After 2 weeks you will need to start from scratch again with new and fresh ingredients - and the initial steeping overnight is only done that first time - at the beginning of a new batch (once every 2 weeks). 

NOTE:  When the tea has boiled and you are ready to drink - just remember to strain out the spices before drinking - and then return any peppercorn or clove back into the pot for the next time that you want to have this tea.


This tea is great with some half & half cream and some honey!

ENJOY!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Biscotti



Chocolate Dipped Coconut Biscotti

Biscotti is a flavor packed but dry Itallian cookie that is made for "dunking".  They can be "dunked" in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, chocolate milk and they are even great dunked in Almond milk.  For many Itallian people this cookie is an everyday snack but I am not Italian and therefore this cookie is very special and I only make them once a year at Christmas time.  This cookie combines the flavors of chocolate and coconut - the key to the strong coconut flavor is the "coconut oil." 




This recipe is available in my ebook:






 

 

ENJOY!!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Fourth of Advent - Shepherds

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."  Luke 2: 8-20

It is interesting that the shepherds were the first ones to be told about the birth of Jesus.  Shepherding was a lowly job (no offense against any sheep farmer today) - they were uneducated and others knew that they could not have made up such a story.  Just imagine a "company of hosts" - how many were there? - hundreds.....thousands.  A choir of angels - what that must have sounded like!  The shepherds would have been able to give a detailed account of what they saw - this was even more proof to others that this could not have been made up by the shepherds.  Everyone of that day who heard this story from the shepherds believed them: "and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

The shepherds were told first to show the world that Jesus came to save us all - It doesn't matter if you are poor or rich, weak or strong, it doesn't matter if you are Jew or Gentile - Jesus is the Savior of all!


Let's glorify and praise God for all that He has done for us and for all that "we have heard and seen"

4 candles have been lit on the Advent wreath


Advent Wreath
The First of Advent - Joseph
The Second of Advent - Mary
The Third of Advent - Baby Jesus

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Almond Biscotti



Chocolate Raspberry Almond Biscotti

Biscotti is a flavor packed but dry Itallian cookie that is made for "dunking".  They can be "dunked" in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, chocolate milk and they are even great dunked in Almond milk.  For many Itallian people this cookie is an everyday snack but I am not Italian and therefore this cookie is very special and I only make them once a year at Christmas time.  This cookie combines the flavors of chocolate, raspberry and almonds. 

Butter, sugar and raspberry jelly have been mixed with an electric mixer.

1/2 cup sugar                                                                                  Printable Recipe
3/4 cup raspberry jelly (I use my own Raspberry Jelly)
1/4 cup butter
2+ cups flour (the + is there because you might need to add a little more and you will also need some flour for dusting the kneading surface)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (Toasting Almonds)

Using an electric mixer - cream the sugar, butter and raspberry jelly until it looks like the picture above (no more than 5 minutes of mixing).  Next add both eggs and beat until blended.  Now, by hand - with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder - the dough will be very sticky.  And finally, stir in the nuts with the wooden spoon.
Dust your kneading surface with flour and knead by hand and keep adding a little more flour until the dough is smooth and less sticky.
Form the dough into 2 logs (as seen in the picture below) and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes (or until the middle is baked - a few little cracks should form on the top).




Allow the logs to cool for about 5 minutes on a cooling rack.  Now cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices - cut at a little bit of a diagonal angle (see picture below) until both logs have been cut (you should have about 20 cookies - these cookies will be smaller and shorter than the Orange Mocha Biscotti). 




Now place all of the cookies back onto the parchment lined cookie sheet and toast (in the 325 degree oven) for 8 to 10 minutes (this will make the cookies dry for dipping/dunking).  Flip each cookie and toast for another 8 to 10 minutes. 

Allow the cookies to cool and then store these biscotti in an airtight container and then in a cool place (I place my biscotti filled container in the garage or root cellar in the basement).





ENJOY!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Orange Mocha Biscotti



Orange Mocha Biscotti

Biscotti is a flavor packed but dry Itallian cookie that is made for "dunking".  They can be "dunked" in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, chocolate milk and they are even great dunked in Almond milk.  For many Itallian people this cookie is an everyday snack but I am not Italian and therefore this cookie is very special and I only make them once a year at Christmas time.  The flavor combination of chocolate, coffee and orange, I know sounds strange but once you have tried this delectable mix - it will become one of your favorites as it is mine.  This recipe (and the next 2 coming in later posts) are my own flavor creation - I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

This recipe is available in my ebook:

 


 


 

 



Biscotti are being toasted in a 350 degree oven



 


ENJOY!!









Chocolate Dipped Coconut Biscotti





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