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Filtering by Tag: RECIPE

Summertime Tea | A Recipe

Ben Ashby

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Summertime Tea

Fresh berries for muddling (such as strawberries or blueberries)


Three parts fruit tea
One part gin
Thyme or rosemary for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle your choice of fresh fruit. Pour in the fruit tea and gin then add ice and shake. Serve on or off the rocks and garnish with your choice of fresh herbs.




Christy Jo Stone + Serving Southern Sweetness

Ben Ashby

CHRISTY JO STONE

the fruit tea chicks

The tiny town of Hartsville, Tennessee, and its surrounding countryside, with its rolling pastures, southern charm and small-town sensibility, provides the perfect palate for Christy Jo Stone to grow her businesses, raise her kids and serve up her signature blend of deliciously refreshing fruit tea. From her family’s farm outside of town, she has transformed a shed into a beautiful space for creating teas, hosting her annual Strawberry Patch Barn Sale and making plans for the future of the Fruit Tea Chicks.

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I live in Hartsville, Tennessee, the same town where I was raised. Trousdale County is the smallest county in Tennessee. It’s predominately a farming community. Like so many others, I grew up in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was in the fourth grade, at which time we moved from Lafayette to Hartsville, which are about 15 miles apart.

Growing up in a small town, I never felt comfortable expressing myself and lived somewhat of a caged-up
life I guess you could say. I really didn’t recognize this until I got older (probably in college) and more in touch with my inner-self. In small towns, it’s not always easy to be “different.” In fact, it was frowned upon, so I chose to conform.


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As I got into high school, I quickly realized if I ever wanted to unleash the beast within, I would have to get the heck outta dodge. So I did. I headed south to Ole’ Miss, which was not a good choice in terms of proper places to unleash the beast! It was one of the most uniform schools I have ever been to, with lots of old money, beautiful people and rich southern gals—none of which applied to me.

I left there after one-and-a-half years and transferred to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where I ended up getting my degree in psychology. While there, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Australia, where I backpacked and lived in hostels for four months. I made this journey all alone, and it’s where my passion for handmade, color and pastry shops came alive. The inner beast was finally released!

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In 2003, I became a stay-at-home mom and a member of the local garden club. Each month we had a potluck, and my “dish” was always my homemade fruit tea. The little old ladies would fluff me up about how good it was and make me feel proud of myself. I started with just a basic recipe, but before long, I was super-bored with it. I started tinkering with the recipe, adding fresh puréed fruits and such.

That worked on a small scale, but when I started the business, that recipe just didn’t work. I finally perfected my own unique recipe using fruit juices, concentrates and a few other specialty blends which have stood the test of time. It’s the one I hope to use until my tea-making days are over.

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I used to journal and doodle a lot. About a year ago, I cleaned out my sewing room and found a journal entry dated June 2009. In it, I had written about my dreams to start my first Barn Sale—The Strawberry Patch—and how I wanted to sell my homemade fruit tea by the jug. I had forgotten I had a vision for my tea, way back when. All these fruit tea ideas finally came together in July 2016 when I did my very first show at Swanky Plank at Rippa Villa.

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I’m completely self-taught with my own cooking. I grew up eating good-old southern food like pinto beans and cornbread, where the only seasoning used was salt, pepper and lard. Being a single mom with three kids going three directions, I never get enough time home to cook. I don’t like frozen or boxed dinners. I love food blogs and pics.

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I’m not sure if it is because of the artfulness of the picture, the staging and styling of it or the beauty of the finished product itself. I’m fascinated by chefs and their ability to create a piece of art using food. I love cookbooks like “The Plantiful Table” and “Whole Food Energy.” I love the pictures in them just as much.

At the end of the day, I’m a single mom without any formal training who is chasing her dreams and doing the best she possibly can. My greatest dream is to deliver a creative product that people will want as a staple item in their pantry for years to come.

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“I’m good at fruit tea—that about sums it up!”

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Summertime Tea

Fresh berries for muddling (such as strawberries or blueberries)

Three parts fruit tea
One part gin
Thyme or rosemary for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle your choice of fresh fruit. Pour in the fruit tea and gin then add ice and shake. Serve on or off the rocks and garnish with your choice of fresh herbs.


The Art to Scone Making

Ben Ashby

THE ART OF SCONE MAKING


By: Debbie Anderson || The Scone Lady

Photography: Kimberly Taylor

 

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Walk into a tearoom in the UK and order a scone, and you will be given three options —plain, sultana (with golden raisins), or cheese.  Google “scones” here in the US, and you will find that the flavor options are limitless.  There are recipes for everything from the traditional plain (or cream) scone to a wide and creative variety including blueberry, cranberry, pumpkin, gingerbread and countless other flavors and combinations.  We Americans have taken the traditional British teatime treat and added our own unique twists and creativity to that simple little quick bread.

When I first started baking scones, I began by working my way through a book of scone recipes.  Each recipe was specific to a particular flavor of scone and seemed to require significantly different ingredients than the previous recipe.  It actually became fairly annoying to have to go on a search through the pantry to find out if I had all the ingredients needed to bake a particular flavor of scone.  Many, many of those early scone-baking sessions resulted in the neighborhood birds and squirrels enjoying a scone feast—for countless recipes resulted in dry and tasteless scones.  

 

 

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As I became more adept at scone baking, I began to understand that the secret to flavor variety was not going to be found in a cookbook of 100 different scone recipes.  Rather, the key was to find a good base (plain) scone recipe (or scone mix) and then learn how to adapt that scone into a multitude of flavors.  If the plain scone wasn’t good—then no amount of additions and toppings were going to improve its flavor.  

And so the quest began. I finally found a scone recipe which met all of my criteria for the perfect scone, and over time I learned how to change it to create distinctly different flavors.  Sometimes that adaptation was born of necessity—I can’t tell you how often I stood in front of the pantry frustrated that I was out of sugar—or chocolate chips—but I had brown sugar on hand, or canned pumpkin—and suddenly a new flavor was born.  It does help, I learned, to have completely honest and captive guinea pigs—in my case, my then-teenage children and their friends, who were always in and out of the house and more than willing to sample a new scone flavor. 

I have learned a few things over the years—and made a lot of mistakes as well.  I was convinced that there was no mistake anyone could make that I haven’t already made—until one of my customers (a Bed and Breakfast owner) confessed that she set her oven on fire one morning while baking strawberry scones (and sent her husband down the street for an emergency bakery run!).  

 

 

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Creating a different flavor of scone is really pretty simple—as long as you follow a few basic principles of baking.

Keep the total volume of liquid the same as what is called for by the recipe or mix directions For example—suppose you want to make a pumpkin flavor scone, and plan to add some pumpkin puree to the scone recipe.  The puree behaves like a liquid—so you will need to cut back on the liquid called for in the recipe, and replace that liquid with pumpkin puree.  If the recipe calls for 1C liquid, and you want to add 1/2C pumpkin puree, then spoon the ½ C of puree into your measuring cup and then bring the total volume up to 1C with the liquid called for in your recipe (usually cream/buttermilk/milk).  Stir to blend completely, and use when directed in the recipe.

Do not change the total amount of dry ingredients called for by the recipe.  Let’s way that your recipe uses 2C flour, and you want to add oats to the dough.  To do that, you will need to cut back the flour by the same WEIGHT as the oats that you add.  Dry ingredients are most accurately measured by weight, not by volume.  (an easy rule of thumb here—3C of flour weighs 1 pound).

Different ingredients get added at different stages in the scone making process.  You have three basic stages of scone making—measuring the dry ingredients into the bowl—cutting in the butter, and then blending in the liquids to create your dough.  In general, dried spices get added to the flour mix, before cutting in the butter.  Nuts and dried fruits can be added after the butter is cut in, but before the liquid is added.  Fresh or frozen fruits are best folded into the dough gently after the dough is made, but before you cut the scones (see side bar for specifics).  I learned this one the hard way—I was making blueberry scones for the first time, and put the berries into the bowl after the butter was cut in—then tried stirring in the buttermilk.  Immediately the berries began to crush and spread blue juice and goo throughout the dough.  That batch of scones has been immortalized in our family history as the day mom created Smurf scones!

 

 

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Some of the easiest ways to change the scone flavor include:

Swapping brown sugar or a combination of white and brown sugar for the granulated sugar usually indicated in the recipe. 

Adding dried fruits or nuts to the dough.  Classic is always a winner.  If you want to kick the results up a notch, toast the nuts before adding them to the flour and butter mixture.  It not only intensifies the flavor but it helps maintain the texture and crunch during the baking process.  

Enhance the flavor with spices, extracts, or citrus zests.  Spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg are natural add-ins, depending upon the flavor you are trying to produce.  Citrus zests will also flavor the dough, as well as enhance the flavor of many different fruits you might be choosing to add (think blueberry lemon or cranberry orange).  Dry spices can be added before the butter is cut in; zest should be added after cutting in the butter, but before adding the liquid.  If you are adding extracts, stir the extract into the liquid ingredients before adding them to the bowl.

Add fresh or frozen fruits to the dough.  If you are using frozen fruit, do NOT thaw the fruit before adding it to the dough.   In general, soft fruits and berries are best added gently by hand once the dough is completely formed, but before you cut the scones.  Roasted apples are an exception and can be added to the butter/flour mixture, before the liquid is added.  

Fruit or vegetable purees can be substituted for much of the liquid ingredients.  Remember to keep the total volume of liquid equal to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe—otherwise you will end up with a very soupy dough.  Substituting purees for some of the liquid ingredients works particularly well in recipes that call for cold butter to be cut into the flour mixture, and then a liquid such as buttermilk, milk, or cream to be added. I would be cautious about this substitution when there is no butter in your ingredient list.  In this case, the recipe likely calls for heavy cream, and the cream is then the sole source of fat for the baked scone.

 

 

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During the holiday season, I like to take my plain scones and dress them up with holiday flavors.  My current favorites include Cranberry Gorgonzola , Apple Ginger, and of course Pumpkin Spice.

 

Pumpkin Spice Scones—Using your favorite plain base scone recipe (see below if you are still searching for the perfect scone recipe) or mix, make the following additions/substitutions:

  1. Add 1T pumpkin pie spice to the dry ingredients, and stir to distribute evenly
  2. Cut in butter as directed
  3. Substitute half to 2/3 of the total liquid called for in the recipe with pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling!).  Blend the puree into the milk/cream/buttermilk, and then follow the recipe as directed to create your dough.
  4. Pat out to a thickness of ¾-1”, cut into desired shape.  Bake immediately or freeze dough for baking later.

* The baking time might be extended by a few minutes, since the pumpkin puree adds to the density of the dough.

Cranberry Gorgonzola Scones —These scones smell absolutely wonderful in the oven, and are a perfect addition to a lunch or supper of soup and salad.  Again, start with your favorite base recipe or mix.  

  1. Once the butter has been cut in, add 4-5 oz (a small container from the grocery store) crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  
  2. Add milk/cream/buttermilk as directed and form your dough.  
  3. Pat out the dough on a floured surface and add a generous handful of fresh or frozen cranberries to the top of the dough.  
  4. Fold the dough over onto itself 2-3 times (again, do not overwork or knead) and re-pat the dough to the desired thickness (I recommend ¾-1” thick). 
  5. Cut into desired shapes and bake immediately or freeze dough to bake later.

 

 

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Apple Ginger Scones—these are a little trickier to create, but are well worth the effort. 

You will need: 

  1. 1C roasted apple chunks (peel, core and dice 2-3 baking apples.  Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 until fork tender—15-20 minutes).  Cool completely before using.)
  2. 1T Powdered Ginger
  3. 1/2C unsweetened applesauce
  4. Molasses (2T or so)
  5. 1/2t cinnamon
  6. 1/2t allspice
  7. Brown Sugar

(When I make these, I actually usually start with our (Victorian House Scones) Gingerbread Scone Mix.) 

If you are starting with a plain base recipe

  1. Substitute brown sugar for the white sugar.  
  2. Add 1 heaping T of powdered ginger, 1/2t cinnamon, and 1/2t allspice to the flour and other dry ingredients.  Stir to distribute spices evenly.
  3. Cut in the butter as directed by the recipe.  Add the cooled roasted apples to the mix and stir to distribute throughout the mixture.
  4. Blend together 2T molasses and 1/2C unsweetened applesauce, then bring up to 1C (or total volume) called for in the recipe.  Stir into the flour/apple/butter mixture to form the dough.  (if less total liquid is called for in the recipe, reduce the molasses and applesauce proportionately).

Turn out onto a floured board, pat to desired thickness, and cut into desired size and shape.  Bake immediately or freeze the dough to bake later.

 

 

 

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Scone Making Basics Sidebar

Use cold (or even frozen) butter when making scones.  A very easy way to cut in icy cold butter is to first grate it with a cheese grater.  Wrap it lightly and freeze for 15-20 minutes (while you assemble the rest of the ingredients).  When you are ready to use the butter, drop it into the bowl, and cut it in with a pastry cutter, or mixer or food processor.  It will go in very quickly, and leave perfect little nubbins of butter scattered throughout the mixture.

 

Handle the dough very minimally.  The less the dough is handled and kneaded, the lighter it will be.  I once saw a demonstration where the woman was incorporating the liquid into the butter/flour mixture with her hands—or rather, with just ONE hand.  When asked why, her comment was that this way she would have scones, not STONES.  Using both hands together would result in the dough being kneaded and overworked thus yielding tough and dry scones.

 

To add fresh or frozen fruit to the dough, pat the dough into a circle as if you were getting ready to cut your scones.  Put a generous handful of fruit such as blueberries on top of the dough.  Gently fold the dough over the fruit 2-3 times, and then gently re-form the circle.  This process will work the berries into the center of the dough.  Take care not to overwork or knead the dough.  Reform the circle and cut the scones into desired shape.  

 

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Links to some basic scone recipes or mixes

www.elmwoodinn.com/recipes/elmwood_scones.html  (offered with permission of Bruce and Shelly Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas)

www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/scones-recipe

(Each of the above recipes call for eggs.  Not all scone recipes need eggs—our mix uses no eggs, and buttermilk rather than heavy cream or half and half.)  Ultimately your favorite scone recipe or mix is going to be what you believe tastes the best!


Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Ben Ashby

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I think I have had PSL overload after the past three years of everything being pumpkin spiced. This year I have been all about the apple and the apple cider. From apple cider cakes, to apple pies, to apple butter...I have been baking at least two or three dishes a week with apples in them. I recently partnered with Kenmore to try out their 5 Quart Slow Cooker. I developed a super easy Slow Cooker Apple Butter recipe for their newly redesigned blog

 

 

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So, after you head inside from a picture perfect trip to the orchard to load up your pantry with enough apples to survive the winter, head over to Kenmore’s website  and give my recipe a try. Don’t worry, it only takes six apples, that you don’t even have to peal....and store bought apples will do.

 

MAKE IT NOW

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Apple Cider Spiced Cake

Ben Ashby

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We're going to go ahead and declare this the official dessert of fall 2017. It couldn't be easier to make, and it couldn't be any more delicious. The addition of the apple cider gives it a fresh crisp taste that you'd never expect in a spice cake. Our icing continues the apple cider theme, and is truly a dessert all to its own. We aren't even going to pretend like this cake is healthy, but it is worth every bite.

 

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Apple Cider Spiced Cake

 

  • 1 Box Spice Cake Mix
  • Apple Cider
  • Butter (melted)
  • Eggs
  • Brown sugar

This cake couldn't be easier, you're basically just grabbing yourself a spiced cake mix from the local grocery, market, or store. Any brand will work. I use Betty Crocker because its the easiest to reach on the Walmart shelf. Once you've gathered your ingredients, pay for them, and taken them all home. 

Follow the instructions on the back of the box, but substitute your water for apple cider. If you can't find apple cider, you can use apple juice, but I really don't like the idea of using it. Substitute the oil for melted butter, and add however many eggs the box tells you too. 

I bake mine in a bundt pan simply because it is my favorite pan. You can absolutely use a loaf pan or a baking dish. The key to making it amazing is absolutely covering your pan in cooking spray. After its well lubricated add a handful of brown sugar. This will give your cake a delicious crunch. Add however much you'd like.

Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box. Use a tooth pick to see if the cake is done. If it comes out clean the cake is fully baked. If it is still wet, keep baking. Remove and cool. If baking in a bundt pan, remove from the pan a few minutes after taking out of the over.

 


 

Apple Cider Whipped Creme Icing

This is the very basic form of the recipe. We also have a more complex creamed cheese apple cider whipped creme. 

  • One cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch

Mix all ingredients with a mixer on high. Gradually add the powdered sugar to avoid a mess. Whip until stiff enough to spread. Drizzle on cake. Chill and eat left overs while watch fall episodes of Gilmore Girls. 

 

 

Cast Iron Apple Pie

Ben Ashby

This has been our most popular recipe every year since we first published it in 2011. A traditional cast iron skillet apple pie with a few seasonal additions make it the perfect treat to serve all autumn long. 

It is my go to recipe for fall. Nothing is better than going to the local orchard and hand harvesting the apples yourself. I use a Martha Stewart enameled cast iron skillet. The pie comes out perfectly every single time. The pie is perfect served hot or cold. 

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RECIPE:

Ingredients 

1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon  

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons sorghum or maple syrup  

1 boxed pie crust  

5 pealed and sliced apples

 

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Add stick of butter and brown sugar to bottom of skillet. Place in oven until melted, do not let boil.  

Remove from the oven. Put bottom crust in skillet. Toss apples in sugar, spices, and syrup. Add mixture to skillet. Place remaining butter on top. Cover with crust. Dust top of crust with a dash of sugar and spices. 

Cut vent holes or decorative pattern in the top of the pie. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until apples are tender. 

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FOLK Valentine's Day

Ben Ashby

Valentine’s day...it seems to be that one little holiday that everyone either loves or well...doesn’t. While I do enjoy Valentine’s day, I’ll admit it can be a bit silly and sometimes it causes people to go over board buying boxes of expensive chocolates, big bouquets of red roses, giant teddy bears and maybe even diamonds, all to show someone you love them. Me? Well, that’s not my thing. Do we really need all those costly, fancy things to tell someone how much they mean to us? And while we’re on the subject, why can’t we make that same effort everyday to show the love we have for each other- minus all the stuff of course? Someone once told me they were committed to living Valentine’s day year-round. Not only because they like the colors pink and red so much (go figure), but because they want to feel that same amount of love everyday and always tell their friends and family how important they are to them. Imagine how wonderful it would be to live in a world like that, where everyone can put our differences aside and constantly show each other love and kindness. 

This brings me to the second (and totally less serious) reason why I enjoy Valentine’s day so much, the sweets! I could never bake enough red velvet and chocolate-y desserts. My sweet tooth really kicks in this time of year but in all honesty, to me, food is love. Maybe a lot of that has to do with being Italian and Greek and it’s instilled in us at an early age, but also there is something so fulfilling to me about spending time in the kitchen baking for my loved ones and being able to give them something I made with my own hands. From my kitchen to yours, I am sharing my 4 favorite Valentine’s day recipes that bring pure joy to my heart to be able to share with my dear family and friends on February 14th. What do you bake for the ones you love?

Recipes:

For little kids and pink lovers alike, this pink velvet cake with white chocolate ganache is the perfect Valentine’s day treat. Let’s be honest, does it get anymore fun than pink cake? If you’re making your cake in a heart shaped pan you may have leftover batter depending on the size, so feel free to use it to make a few cupcakes as well.

Pink Velvet Cake

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon pink paste food coloring

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

White Chocolate Ganache

2 cups white baking chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and food coloring until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Fill greased, medium sized heart shaped pan or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. For cake, bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes (this is for a medium sized heart shaped cake pan, adjust baking time based on size, bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean). For cupcakes, bake at 350 degrees F for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, place the white chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chips; whisk until smooth. Stir in butter. Transfer to a large bowl. Chill for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Beat on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form and frosting is light and fluffy. Frost cake/cupcakes. Store in refrigerator.

Being that red velvet is one of my all time favorite desserts, these sinfully delicious chocolate-filled red velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting can always be found somewhere in the kitchen this time of year. Grab one and prepare to indulge!

Chocolate-Filled Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 cup milk chocolate pieces

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon butter

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons red food coloring

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

For filling, in small saucepan combine chocolate pieces, cream and 1 Tablespoon butter. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Transfer to small bowl; cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and freeze about one hour, until fudge-like consistency. Divide into 12 portions and working quickly with hands, roll each portion into a ball. Place in freezer. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper bake cups. In a small bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl beat the 1/4 cup softened butter with mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar; beat on medium until combined. Beat on medium 2 minutes more, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, food coloring and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low until combined. In a small bowl combine baking soda and vinegar; stir into batter. Divide half of the batter among the cups. Place a ball of filling on batter in center of each cup and spoon remaining batter into cups. Bake 15-18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove and cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool completely and top with cream cheese frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and room temperature.

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioner’s sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Yields about 2 cups.

I’ve been so blessed to grow up with such a wonderful, talented and supportive family. My father went to the Culinary Institute of America and over the years I’ve enjoyed learning as much as I can from his knowledge of food to help me in my own career. This recipe for chocolate mousse was one he learned from a charcuterie chef when he was in school (strange, right?!). He then taught me how to make this incredibly decadent and in my opinion, best chocolate mousse ever. I’ve watched my father make this recipe by hand numerous times. Imagine the arm strength required to whip that cream and those egg whites by hand...amazing. I had to cheat and use a mixer but still, this one is for you Dad, I love you!  

Chocolate Mousse

9 ounces unsweetened chocolate

9 ounces sugar

9 egg yolks

9 egg whites

1/2 cup water

1 quart heavy cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler and keep hot in the corner of the stove. Separate eggs and yolks and put each in its own bowl. Whip the heavy cream until it’s stiff (peaks and stays) and chill in a stainless steel bowl. Mix the water and sugar in a small sauce pan and cook to the thread. Start whipping the egg whites until stiff. While they’re whipping, when the sugar mixture is complete pour it over the egg yolks and whip immediately until it starts to foam bubbles. Pour the hot, melted chocolate over the yolk and sugar mixture and with a spatula, gently fold them together until well mixed. Do not whip. With a spatula, fold the stiff egg whites into this mixture. Do not whip. Gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula, until the color is uniform. Again, be careful not to whip. Put in cups and refrigerate before serving.

Top your chocolate mousse with some beautiful, frosted fruit for a pretty, wintery garnish that you can eat!

Frosted Fruit

2 teaspoons dried egg whites

1-2 packages of your desired fruit (I used raspberries and strawberries)

2 Tablespoons warm water

Superfine sugar

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the dried egg whites and warm water with a balloon whisk until foamy. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the washed and dried fruit on it. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg whites over the fruit, covering them evenly and completely. Sprinkle the superfine sugar over the berries and cover completely. Let the fruit dry for at least a couple hours until the sugar has hardened and becomes crisp.

Breakfast in bed. Ok, it’s kind of a cliche Valentine’s day tradition, but come on, who doesn’t love breakfast in bed! This simple pancake recipe is the perfect ‘breakfast in bed food’. Mixing cinnamon and chocolate chips into your batter spices them up and adds a touch of romance while making it easier then ever to surprise your loved ones with something homemade on Valentine’s day.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 cups pancake mix

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Stir pancake mix and cinnamon in large bowl until well blended. Stir in eggs, milk, oil and vanilla just until blended. Add in chocolate chips. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto preheated lightly greased griddle or skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown, turning when pancakes begin to bubble. Serve pancakes with syrup or fresh fruit if desired.

Almond Lavender Cake

Heath Stiltner

Have you ever cooked with lavender? It’s a very unique scent and flavor. It can be used in many things like lemonade and ice cream... I’ve even seen lavender cupcakes! I like trying new things and before this cake I had never actually tasted something with lavender in it. 

It’s almost hard to describe because there’s nothing else like it. The lavender adds a slightly floral taste that you feel when you breathe in after biting into this cake. Same with the glaze, it adds the softest, sweetest floral taste that’s unexpected but very delicious. 

This cake is absolutely beautiful and makes for a perfect springtime dessert. Garnish the slices with some dried lavender for an extra splash of purple! You can use your own lavender if you grow it in your garden or look for dried lavender in spice shops. 

Almond Lavender Cake

1/4 cup half-and-half cream

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons boiling water

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Additional dried lavender flowers, optional

2 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers, divided

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

Grease a 10-in. fluted tube pan and sprinkle with sugar; set aside. Place 1/2 cup sugar, almonds and 1 tablespoon lavender in a food processor; cover and process until finely ground.

In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in almond mixture until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half-and-half. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each
addition.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For drizzle, in a small bowl, combine water and remaining lavender. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding lavender. In another small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough infused water to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cake. Garnish with additional lavender if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

 

Almond Lavender Cake photography, styling, and recipe by Rikki Snyder. Find more from Rikki on her website and on Instagram—@RikkiSnyder.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Ben Ashby

FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE

BY: RIKKI SNYDER

Warmer weather cannot come soon enough! I found myself sitting here dreaming of days when you can step outside barefoot and feel the grass between your toes.

 One of my favorite things to do when the weather turns warmer is go strawberry picking. I absolutely love strawberries and none of the store bought ones ever seem to taste as good as the ones we pick ourselves. On the way back from the farm they always make our car smell so good and all I can think about is eating them dipped in warm, melted chocolate...my favorite!

There are so many things to do with your fresh strawberries, like making jam or ice cream or fresh smoothies...the possibilities are endless. One of my favorites however, is a nice slice of strawberry pie. 

This is the easiest pie that I have ever made and by far one of the best.  Maybe it's because I love these fresh strawberries so much or maybe it's because of all that incredible whipped cream that I pile on top of my pieces. The vanilla pudding mix whipped with the cream is the best. There's no way I could go back to eating store bought whipped cream after this! Just wait until you try it.

What do you like to make with strawberries?

 

Strawberry Pie

3 quarts strawberries, hulled and divided

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

2/3 cup water

10-inch deep-dish pie crust, baked

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 Tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix

Optional: A few drops of red food coloring

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In a large bowl, mash berries to equal 3 cups; set aside along with remaining whole berries. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Stir in mashed berries and water; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; heat and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add food coloring if desired for red color. Pour mixture in a large bowl; chill for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is just slightly warm. Fold in remaining whole berries. Pour into prepared pie crust, chill for 2-3 hours. Place cream in a small mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to whip cream and pudding mix until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream mixture around edge of pie or dollop on individual slices. Serves 8-10.