Monday, November 28, 2016

Melt In Your Mouth Apple Crisp

  It is now officially Christmas season since all of the other major holidays are in the past for the year. I suppose when you think of Christmas season spent in the kitchen you might envision lots of cookie baking, various pies making, and the whole house smelling like ginger, cinnamon, and various other scents that are somehow labeled to Christmas season, but, no. To me, I see absolutely no reason why I can't still be making my favorite creations even though they are "labeled" in the Summer, Spring, or Fall categories. To me it's a bunch of nonsense labeling certain baked goods to certain holidays.

  Since I was having such fun feeling like a culinary rebel, instead of creating at least a dozen belly-sinking fruitcakes, I have instead used my baking time to create lighter and generally more pleasing desserts than those usually handed out in all of the Hallmark movies. As far as I know, most people in real life can't stomach Christmas cookies, and fruitcake even less so. On a mission, I swept into the kitchen and have been making season defying desserts ever since.

  One of these "rebel" desserts that was absolutely delicious and had enough cinnamon in it to warrant it a spot on a holiday list, was an absolutely delicious apple crisp recipe. I know, you might be thinking, oh, it's a fall recipe. But don't even let that thought cross your mind again, this is a superb recipe worthy of any and every season.

Melt In Your Mouth Apple Crisp

For the streusel topping:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon (you can add more if you want to channel your inner rebel)
1 pinch of salt
5 tbsp butter cut into small pieces

For the apple layer:

3 large apples, sliced thinly and peeled
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of salt

In a medium bowl mix everything together (it's easier if you use two forks) until you have a coarse crumb mixture. Pop it into the fridge and begin making the apple layer. In a small bowl mix together the flour and the melted butter. Add in the lemon juice, milk, and vanilla, making sure to mix well. Stir in the browns sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Pour this mixture over the prepared apples and toss to coat. Spread the apple layer evenly into an 8x8-inch pan. Distribute the crumb topping onto the apple layer making sure that everything has been covered in a blanket of the streusel topping. Bake at 350 degrees F, for about 30-35 minutes or until the the streusel is a lovely golden brown and bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving with ice cream, or if you let the pan cool to a pleasant temperature you can sit down with the whole pan and have a movie marathon. I didn't actually do that but I know it sounds like fun.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Dear Diary ~ A Morning Spent Shopping

  I don't know about you, but to me spending an afternoon, or evening, or whenever really, scribbling away in my diary is a pretty perfect way to use up my time and document my life in a pleasing and enjoyable manner. Even though the idea of having my life recorded is terrific, it is the fact that I can write absolutely whatever I fancy at the moment into my diary that makes me love it so much. Plus, my diary is like a friend to me, however strange that may sound.

  Now I did not plan to go about making a blog post consisting of nothing but yapping about my diary so I shall not turn it into that now. My point for writing this post was to tell you about my morning that I spent shopping, I am only giving you a proper introduction to my diary because today you shall get to meet her because I have had a pretty terrific morning that can only be told to you properly if I go and share my diary entry about it with you.

  But, before I begin, there is one thing that you must know about my diary, and that particular bit of information is that her name is Arabella, I don't know why I chose that name but she looked a bit British so I went with it.

  Now that I have given you that vital bit of information I can share my morning with you just as I did with Arabella. Well, everything but my handwriting, which you can be glad you don't have to view since this font is a lot more legible.

Dear Arabella,

  Though it is only 3:27 in the afternoon, I was in the mood to write so here I hideout in my room, secluded efficiently from most of reality. Isn't that terrific?!
  This morning at around nine, Mum whisked Diane, Sean, and I off to to go about some shopping for Christmas supplies and various other items.
  My lower back was doing a splendid job of hurting and throbbing uncontrollably, so that made for an interesting ride into town. I didn't care too much though, because everyone knows that physical comfort is overrated. #sarcasm
  Once we had arrived at the store Mum led us all to the Christmas section of the store which seemed to be branched off as another building. That building had frequently opened doors so lots of cheery birds were flying around chirping incessantly. I was in awe of all the supplies in the Christmas department, we browsed for a while and Mum selected several rolls of wrapping paper and a large container of gorgeous ornaments. I could have spent hours in that department doing nothing but sighing over perfectly darling ornaments and so on.
   Sadly however, we left to finish up the rest  of our shopping . Since it's Christmas season, there were exceeding amounts of elf balloons everywhere. They were floating over shelves, and peeking from behind boxes, and some were basking in the warmth of the ceiling lights. Sean didn't seem overly impressed about them, but that only amused me.
  Mum took us to select winter boots then and I have to admit that I was a touch upset over how Mum made me get a pair of boots suited for orcs instead of a lovely pair that I wanted. I believe as Mum put it "you have to be practical, you're using these outside in the snow, it's not like you're using them to go to church or something." Can you believe that?! I'd much rather be cold and stylish than warm and sporting boots that orcs would fancy.
  However, Arabella, all thoughts of fashion problems were soon forgotten when I arrived to the tea section and was informed that I could select anything that suited my fancy. Naturally I chose the "English Breakfast Tea" knowing that once I arrived at home that Dad and I would have to thoroughly look over the assets of the tea, noting it's flavour notes and so on.
  Once we had checked out and were leaving, the store's greeter took one look at our tub of ornaments and immediately began telling Mum how he decorated his tree with purple ornaments and how the tinsel we had selected didn't actually look that pretty on the tree. Mum tried to politely edge away from all of his excessive chatter but that man followed us right along. I don't know exactly why but he struck one of my many absurd funny bones.

  That was only an excerpt from my diary but I believe it served to tell you about my morning spent shopping. You see, sometimes I can explain things better to Arabella than anyone else.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Blackberry Cheesecake Doughnuts

  I have always had a certain fascination with pretty desserts. Not just the sweets that grace high end patisseries but the simple little things that look delicious and pretty to boot. In fact I remember every Christmas time once the Christmas Swiss Colony catalogue came round, I would always flip through to where their cheesecakes were. I had such an obsession with cheesecake and honestly still do. I would just sit and stare at those rich and creamy desserts swirled with various fruits and want to eat nothing more than cheesecake.

  A few days ago I came across a recipe for cheesecake stuffed doughnuts and I knew I had to make them. I have made a few tweaks and added my own little spin on the original recipe and after sinking my teeth into one I just knew I had to share the recipe. Even though they taste delicious, it was the fact that they looked so pretty that made me like them so well.

Blackberry Cheesecake Doughnuts

For doughnuts:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 tsp yeast
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp softened butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

For cheesecake filling:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt

For blackberry topping: (You can just use jam but I wanted to have a homemade topping.)

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups blackberries (If frozen allow to thaw)

  Starting with the dough mix the warm water, zest, vanilla, yeast, eggs, and sugar till well combined. Add in the butter and the cream mixing it lightly. Add in the flour and salt, mixing gently. Knead the dough for a few minutes and then transfer to a lightly greased, covered bowl and allow to rise for one hour, or as needed till it has practically doubled in size.
  Once risen, transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll out to a half-inch thickness. Cut out rounds and allow to rise on a covered parchment tray for half an hour, or till puffy. Bake at 350 for ten minutes. While they are baking grab a bowl and combine half a cup of sugar and anywhere from one teaspoon of cinnamon to a tbsp depending on your personal preference. In a small saucepan melt five tablespoons of butter. Once the doughnuts have baked, dip them into the butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar. (Please note that this step is completely optional but I found it to be a delicious addition.)
  For the filling beat everything together. (That was blunt!) Spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a long circular tip. Poke a hole into the sides of the doughnuts and fill.
  To make the blackberry filling combine the water, sugar and cornstarch on medium heat. Add the butter and the blackberries. Bring it to a boil stirring gently. Boil the mixture, stirring constantly till thickened. You'll want the mixture to have thickened to the consistency of soft jam so that it does not run all over the place when you garnish your doughnuts.
  Allow the berry mixture to cool (it's a good idea to make this while your doughnuts are rising, that way you don't get impatient and eat all of your baked doughnuts while you are waiting for the mixture to cool.) Pipe a "nest" of cream cheese filling on the center of each doughnut and spoon a dollop of blackberry filling into each "nest." These doughnuts are the best served on the same day as they were made so feel free to serve them along with dinner, as an after dinner snack, and for a midnight snack if necessary.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today..... November 7, 2016

Looking out my window..... I see the golden rays of the sun creeping down past the hills and the barn roof.

I am thinking.....  That there is only one country song that I can stand, and it's not really that country anyways.

I am thankful..... For music. How bleak would the world be without music? It's unfathomable.

One of my favorite things..... Since it's fall I should name some fall thing, but the truth is, at this time of the year I love to curl up under my favorite blanket with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. The very act makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I am wearing.....  A simple pleated black skirt and a silk shirt with the map of Middle Earth printed across it.

I am creating.....  A book. It is not top notch or anything but it serves to be a stimulating past time. My mom read some of it and said it reminds her of Jane Austen. I would say I have to agree since my usage of bigger words in my book is a bit excessive. I enjoy that though and it brings a smile to my face.

I am reading.....  Emma, by Jane Austen. Those classic novels delight me. Though they are a touch hard to comprehend at times that doesn't keep me from enjoying them. In fact, if anything, I would say they are consequently becoming easier to read. I'm not saying my brain is capable of great comprehension but rather that I don't feel quite as much like throwing the book into our furnace every time I sit down to read classics.

I am hoping.....  That the Christmas play I am in will go by smoothly without a glitch. There is just something about reading my lines and so on that makes me feel so festive and puts images of holly and evergreens in my mind!

I am learning.....  How to project my voice. My acting teacher has given me many pointers because on the night of the play all of us have to act without microphones. Since microphones are clumsy and not professional.. So far I can say a pretty noisy hello but not much else.

In the kitchen.....  There are cupboards and a stove, and for some completely preposterous reason there is a fridge! Would you believe it?! (All sarcasm aside, I have nothing special in our kitchen to note.)

Picture thought.....  A few days ago, being inspired by reading a sweets blog, I decided to make blackberry doughnuts and since they turned out so well I will be sharing the recipe with all of you tomorrow.