Welcome back friends! Let’s get cozy and have a cup of tea!
I am fortunate enough to own a spearmint plant that has flourished in its container and I want to show you how to harvest, dry and brew your own spearmint tea!
Beyond being a warm and comforting beverage, spearmint tea has numerous proven and/or potential health benefits, including:
Fighting bacterial infections.
Relieving digestive upsets.
High in antioxidants.
May aid in balancing hormones.
May lower blood pressure.
May lower blood sugar.
May help reduce stress.
May help relieving arthritis pain.
May improve memory function.
Trim the mint back, then pluck the best leaves from the stems. If you do not want or need to trim the mint back, you could also pluck the best leaves directly from the plant.
Wash the leaves thoroughly with fresh water, then place them in a salad spinner to remove any excess water.
Line a baking sheet with with a baking mat or parchment paper and spread the mint leaves on the prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to crowd them.
Turn your oven on to it’s lowest setting (for many this will be 170F).
Place the mint leaves in the oven and bake them until dry. This could only take 10 to 15 minutes, but it varies by oven strength so keep an eye on them! They will be curled and make a dry rustling sound when nudged with a utensil.
Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool.
You can store the leaves in an airtight container or brew some tea right away!
Use an infuser and keep the leaves whole or grind them up. If you do grind them up, smaller pieces will make their way out of the infuser and float around in your tea. This isn’t a bad thing, just personal preference!
Welcome back friends! Who would like some warm and comforting, homemade cinnamon rolls on one (or more) of these cold winter mornings? Maybe at a table with some coffee or tea and a good book? Or maybe a good movie or show? I know I do, so let’s bake some!
1 cup of warm milk
2 1/2 teaspoons of instant dry yeast
1/2 cup of salted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup of salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 cup of heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup of salted butter, softened
6 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Pour the warm milk into a large bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast.
Add the butter, eggs and sugar, then mix until well combined.
Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, then mix until well combined.
Scrape the dough off the beater blade and knead for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and smooth.
Spray another large bowl with cooking spray and use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place in the greased bowl.
Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes to an hour).
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of heavy cream; mixing it until well combined, then set it aside.
Once the dough has risen, sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour, and turn the dough onto the mat. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about 24” x 15” rectangle (though it does not have to be exact).
Use a rubber spatula to smooth the filling over the whole dough rectangle.
Starting at the long end, roll the dough up tightly.
Cut the roll into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13” baking pan.
Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly double.
Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
Warm the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream until the chill is off, then pour if over the risen rolls, allow it to soak in and around.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until gold brown and the center rolls are cooked through. Time will vary so keep an eye on them! If they are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese and butter, blending well.
Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, then beat until combined.
Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls.
*To save time in the mornings, you can also prepare the dough the night before. Make the dough and proceed to the second rise when the rolls are in the pan. Once risen, cover them up again and put them in the refrigerator until morning. In the morning, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes before baking.
Welcome back friends! Who wants some warm and comforting hot cocoa on a cold winter morning or evening? Maybe with some homemade marshmallows and a good book or movie? I know I do, so let’s make some mix!
HOT COCOA MIX
3/4 cup of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of dry nonfat or whole milk powder
1 cup of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Whisk together the cocoa powder, milk powder, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl, then add the white chocolate chips and stir again to evenly distribute them.
Add the mixture to a food processor and pulse until everything is finely ground and smooth.
This dry cocoa mix can be store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
To make hot cocoa, put 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk (whichever milk you prefer).
Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows, if desired and enjoy!
Welcome back friends! Who wants some fresh, oven baked peasant bread to enjoy on one (or more) of these beautiful autumn mornings? Or afternoons? Or evenings? Honestly, anytime is the right time for freshly baked bread!
So let’s bake!
HOMEMADE PEASANT BREAD
4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of lukewarm water
Butter, for greasing
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast, then add the warm water and stir until well combined.
Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Grease two bread pans with the butter, then set them aside.
When ready, remove the cover from the bowl and using two forks gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl, then use the two forks again to split it in half down the middle.
Transfer each half of the dough into a greased bread pan.
Cover each pan and allow the dough to rise again for 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Transfer your baking vessels to the oven and allow them to bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden all around.
Allow to cool in the baking pan for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Who wants some fresh, oven baked pumpkin bread to enjoy on one (or more) of these beautiful autumn mornings? Maybe at a table with some coffee or tea and a good book?
I know I do, so let’s bake some!
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
3⁄4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
2 large of eggs
1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree
Powdered sugar (optional)
Set an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat it to 325F.
Grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans with butter, then dust with flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until well combined, then set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and continue to beat until very light and fluffy, then incorporate the pumpkin.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix on a low speed until well combined.
Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared pans, and bake for 65 – 75 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the loaves cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Place powdered sugar into a sifter and lightly dust the top of each loaf.
I have some chocolatey, peanut buttery halloween cookies for you!
You may have heard that you can make cookies with boxed cake mix and this recipe does just that, but with a boost of unsweetened cocoa powder and Reeses Pieces! They are delicious; rich and not too sweet. If you’re looking for something tasty to bake for yourself or someone(s) you love, please try these and enjoy!
1 box of devil’s food chocolate cake mix
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of Reeses Pieces candy
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Open the cake mix and pour it into a large mixing bowl.
Measure 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa into the dry cake mix and stir gently to incorporate.
Add the softened butter and eggs into the dry ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms.
Divide the Reeses Pieces: stir one cup into the cookie dough and place the other cup into a separate small bowl.
Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls, then dip the top of each dough ball into the small bowl of Reeses Pieces. Lightly press the Reeses Pieces on top a little more firmly into the dough if needed but don’t squash the dough ball and place it onto the baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the power of your oven.
Bring the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on a rack for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Who wants some fresh from scratch, oven baked ghostly brownies to enjoy on one (or more) of these beautiful autumn evenings? Maybe at a movie night, or a game night?
I know I do, so let’s bake some!
1/2 cup of butter, melted
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and coat a baking pan with cooking spray (I used a 13×9 pan).
Combine the melted butter, oil, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
Add the eggs, vanilla and salt.
Slowly stir in the flour a little at a time until a thick batter forms, then fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 21 to 25 minutes or until they become glossy around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean.
Place a little powdered sugar into a sifter and lightly sift the tops of the brownies until white.
Using a ghost shape cookie cutter, cut ghost shapes into the brownies (leave them where they are) and add 3 chocolate chips for the eyes and the mouth of each ghost.
Allow the brownies to completely cool and solidify, then carefully remove the ghosts from the pan. I peeled away the edges and extra spaces first, then used a flat metal spatula to lift the ghosts out.
Welcome back friends! Who wants some fresh stovetop popcorn to enjoy on one (or more) of these beautiful autumn nights? Maybe cuddled under a blanket, while watching a good movie? I know I do, so let’s pop some!
HOMEMADE STOVETOP POPCORN
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3/4 cup of popcorn kernels
2 to 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoon of popcorn salt
To create popcorn salt, grind it into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle or run 1/2 cup of salt in the food processor until fine.
Place the olive oil and popcorn kernels in a large lightweight pot, then gently shake the pot to distribute the kernels over the bottom of the pan and evenly coat the kernels with oil.
Place the pot on medium heat (or slightly lower depending on the power of your stovetop) and put the the lid on. The kernels will begin popping in about a minute or so and you may need to hold the lid on using the safety handle.
Shake the pot briefly every 30 seconds or so. When the popping stops, immediately pour the popcorn in to a large bowl. You may want to have a bowl set aside to pour excess popcorn into as you go if your pot turns out to be too small.
Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave, then pour it over the popcorn and sprinkle the salt, shaking well to toss and disperse.
*This popcorn may look a little dark, but the kernels were toasted in the pan before popping, I did not taste any burnt flavor.
Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Autumn and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter. I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.
I intend to spend a lot of time with my family this year and came up with some family friendly ideas I’d like to experience with Zoey! Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!