Category: quick & easy

Honey, lemon & ginger “flu” tea.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Just a few weeks ago, back in mid-January, I was very sick. Like, sick sick. Not hospital sick, but sick enough to where I ended up at the doctor twice in one week, was on two different antibiotics for a total of 2 weeks (one of which is an antibiotic they give anthrax exposed patients! Lovely!) and had to get a chest X-ray. It was wicked. Wicked gross… and it lingered for a wicked long time. I still have a little cough!

I didn’t make myself any spiced honey this season either. I’m an idiot. I made my parents two gigantic jars and neglected to make myself anything. However, I saw a quick and easy alternative on instagram and decided it wasn’t too late to make it. Hopefully I will not be sick again this season, but just in case…

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Honey, lemon and ginger go into a jar. It sits for a few days, then when you’re sick you just take two tablespoons of the liquid and pop it into a mug. Fill with 8-10 oz. of boiling water and drink! Ta-da. Immediate flu tea. Magic.

Twelve ounces of honey makes two 8-ounce jars. One lemon makes one small jar, too. And ginger stretches pretty far; you can use small thin slices. I recommend making a 16-ounce jar if you can, because it’s easier to work around. I decided to split mine into two separate jars.

And it’s the same thing as the spiced honey- you can use it to ward off the cold/flu or use it when you already have the cold/flu to ease (and shorten the duration of) symptoms.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

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Rocky road (of life) brownies.

Guys, I’m sorry. I’m trying really hard to keep up the posts here, but honestly I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping for some sweet Valentine’s Day inspo soon, but right now the rivers of ideas in my brain have run dry.

However, today, we shall feast like kings.

Rocky road brownies with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

So this happened. Yup. I was sitting home Saturday night, thinking how much I’d love a brownie. Then I saw the marshmallows I made. And the Oxo container filled with walnut halves. And I thought, “Why just REGULAR brownies? Why not SUPER BROWNIES?!” And then while writing this, I realized… rocky road… rocky road of life… because you know, I’m sitting here being dramatic and pouting that I haven’t posted enough at the blog this year (so far). *siiiiiiigh*

The really cool thing about these is that they’re 100% made from scratch. I mean, I didn’t grow the cacao or the walnuts. I probably could- I had an aunt who had a walnut tree in her yard. But I made the marshmallows from scratch, and the brownies. Pretty neat. They’re as homemade as you can get. Look at them:

Rocky road brownies; covered with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Right? RIGHT?! Insanity. Insane in the membrane. Intensity in 10 cities.

Imagine, if you will, these babies crumbled- or just plunked- on ice cream. I know. Stop. Your brain is gonna explode. Calm down.

Do they make up for the lack of posts from me?

Rocky road brownies; homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts topping rich chocolate brownies.

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The key to key lime marmalade.

Marmalade is probably the quintessential winter canning item. Everyone who “cans” or “preserves” is getting their hands on amazing winter citrus fruit: blood oranges, lemons, limes, oranges of all kinds, Meyer lemons, etc. So what else is there to make but marmalade? Or curd. But curd isn’t as … let’s say, universal, as marmalade.

Key lime marmalade.

Actually, marmalade isn’t very universal. Unless you live in Great Britain or Ireland, it’s kind of polarizing. You either love it or despise it. You either “get it” or you don’t. Curd is probably way more accepted than marmalade. You can use curd as the filling for a tart and no one would ever know it was originally curd.

In my family, there are both these kinds of marmalade people. I don’t much like marmalade myself. I avoid it. My nana liked it, but on the tart side – and not with a lot of rind or peel. My mom likes it sweeter with a lot of peel for texture. My dad doesn’t like it at all. Once you get to love it, you get to understand it. Or once you start making it, in my case. Then you can see how to use it in more ways than just on toast or English muffins. Like for example, melted slightly on pound cake, as a glaze for pork or chicken, swirled into a vodka cocktail, etc.

Key lime marmalade.

I’ve made marmalade a bunch of times and each time I’ve had a different experience. Most of the time I’ve used my basic marmalade formula. Sometimes it’s taken a few days for it to “set”, other times it’s set so firmly right away that in order to use it it needed to be softened (thanks to the insanely pectin-y lemons I used). I’ve made some marmalade that never fully set too, and was always a little liquid-ish. Some of them I’ve re-cooked and processed, others I’ve just marketed as “citrus syrup- great on ice cream.” But regardless- it’s always been fairly simple. It’s just a loooooong process.

This time, I made key lime marmalade. Key limes are tiny little adorable -and sweet (yet more acidic too, if that makes sense)- limes that are most commonly used in pies. I have never made lime marmalade before, so that’s what you see here. But for your purposes, any citrus fruit will do.

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Earl Grey caramel.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

 

Earl Grey caramel.

Don’t hate me. This wasn’t my idea. I mean, it was. But I first saw it on Saveur, so blame them. However, their version was a lavender Earl Grey caramel, which sounds lovely. It really does. It just doesn’t appeal to me, personally.

I don’t like lavender much. Especially not on my food.

I LOVE caramel, though. LOVE it. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And I also love Earl Grey tea! So I knew this would be a home run for me. I just tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and voila. A jar of delicious, soft, Earl Grey caramel. Perfect over ice cream. Delightful with pound cake.

Earl Grey caramel.

I’m always reminded of my Nana when I make anything involving tea. She would’ve loved this, too.

So many people are afraid of trying to make caramel. They think of boiling sugar and candy thermometers and “hard crack” and “soft ball” stages and get terrified. No need. It isn’t all that hard and you don’t need a thermometer. I promise. Just common sense. Its HOT sugar. Don’t touch it. There. End of story.

Earl Grey caramel.

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Christmas jam, Amish style.

We’re getting so close to Christmas! Have you gotten all of your shopping done yet? Do you know what you’re giving every single person? If not, I have a suggestion- Amish Christmas jam.

Amish Christmas jam!

Before I say anything else, let me say this: this jam, when cooking, smells like the realistic, better, fresher version of a Christmas candle. You know, those candles that are called, like, “Home for the Holidays” or “Christmas berry wreath.” The scent of sweetness, cranberry, orange, and cinnamon… mixed with something else. Something sweet, juicy and berry-like. You know what that is?

Strawberry.

Yep. Strawberry. Wait, what’s that? Everyone’s favorite spring berry, making an appearance in this Christmas jam? Yes! And you wouldn’t believe how good it smells!

There are a lot of variations of Amish Christmas jam. Some have raspberries and blackberries with cranberries. Some have strawberries, like this one. Some even have pineapple or regular apples. I don’t know the origins of it, or if it’s really an Amish thing (I mean, beyond the fact it’s always being sold at Amish country gift shops), but it certainly is delicious.

Amish Christmas jam.

This particular recipe is low-sugar. The entire thing only requires 2 cups of it! Most Amish Christmas jam recipes require twice as much (or more). In this recipe, the fruit itself takes center stage. However, because it’s low-sugar, it uses Pomona’s Pectin, which is a two-step pectin specifically used in low/no-sugar canning recipes that can be intimidating to some people. Don’t be intimidated! It’s very, very easy.

And I would even venture to say a canning newbie could make this recipe very easily.

Amish Christmas jam.

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Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with brandy icing and sugared cranberries.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

So, hey guys… I made some mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. Cutest little things. And add to them some cute little sparkly sugared cranberries. Ugh. Forget it. Are visions of sugarplums- or sugared cranberries- dancing in your head? It’s Christmastime, folks! I know! So exciting. It’s such a busy time of year, I know, but I hope you all take some time to spend with your families and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget that not only are we all human- but what’s important.

Beautiful things don’t always have to be complicated. Simple is beautiful too. And I promise you that these little mini gingerbread bundts are simple. Don’t be scared by the sugared cranberries!

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

Gingerbread is so Christmas, it’s practically mandatory. If you let a holiday season go by without making gingerbread, it’s almost sacrilegious. I decided to up the ante and add another holiday favorite: cranberries. And let’s not forget brandy, another holiday staple.

So yeah. Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. They’re so beautiful… and also just plain adorable. But SIMPLE. Just a few ingredients, a little bit of mixing and tossing and whisking and voila. Gorgeous little cakes to serve after a holiday meal. And they’ll make you feel all Martha Stewart-y.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

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Classic Christmas chocolate chip cookies!

Wow, look at that alliteration in the title. Enough to bring a tear to an English teacher’s eyes. Okay, anyway… cookies! It’s that time of year! Everyone is baking away this month. Between Hanukkah and Christmas and all the parties and events that are going on, there are a LOT of cookies being passed around. Sometimes they’re traditional “Christmas” cookies- gingerbread men, gingerbread trees. Or maybe sugar cookies in the shape of a Star of David with blue icing. I remember making cookies and confections with my mom by the dozen- magic bars, sugar cookies, stroufala, gingerbread, Russian tea cookies, etc. It was the most fun thing ever.

But what about the classic chocolate chip cookie? How come that doesn’t have a bigger place in our Christmas baking?

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas cookie classic.

Who DOESN’T love a good chocolate chip cookie?! These particular cookies happen to have oats in them, which makes them a little heartier and not just your average chocolate chip cookie. The oats make them a bit chewier, which is nice. Plus they transport well, and are easy to store- not delicate at all!

Perfect for kids, teachers, whoever you want to bake up a gift for.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • one 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes for a soft chewy cookie or 12-14 for a more “Chips Ahoy” texture.
  5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas classic cookie.

I like using wide mouth Ball or Kerr jars to gift them in. Just stack ’em up in the jars once they’re cooled, close the jars with lids & bands and then tie pretty ribbons and gift tags on them. I also like using cardboard pastry boxes from places like Pick Your Plum or Wilton. It just dresses them up a little.

Can I tell you that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever? They are. My co-workers are STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM and I brought them in the week of Thanksgiving. I am not joking. I’ve had requests for them every day since.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!

If you want to make them look a little more festive, you can replace the chocolate chips with either red & green M&M’s or Nestle’s red & green colored semi-sweet morsels. You can also add nuts if you like. They’re great the way they are, but a little cookie experimentation never killed anyone.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

  Suggestions for use: eat ’em!
Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas” – The Waitresses
Sources & credits: 16 ounce (pint) Kerr wide mouth jar; freshpreserving.com