March – Frozen Food Month

March is “Frozen Foods” Month. I am the “loves to cook more than needed and freeze the extra” sort of person. On nights when I don’t feel like cooking, I pull open the freezer and there, just waiting for me, is a delicious “left over” – it feels like Christmas morning!

Well wrapped room temperature food (homemade or store bought) seals in the flavor and keeps items fresh, and makes them freezer ready. (There are some foods and sweets that can not be frozen, but these are few). Once in the habit, this is a great saver! Bagels, for example, freeze beautifully. You can buy several – in many places you have discounts at certain quantities, and wrap them individually; once wrapped place them all in a freezer -grade ziptop bag, pop in the freezer. When ready, just take one out, slice, place in your toaster oven or toaster, on a medium toast setting.

When you’re trying to make something last, like banana bread, and you only want a portion out: Cut the banana bread into quarters or thirds. Wrap one protion for fridge storage and then individually tightly wrap the other portions and once again, to ensure they will not get frost bite, zip them up in an airtight freezer bag.

When ready, take your frozen item out of the freezer and let come to room temperature. (If you’re in a hurry a microwave can shorten the defrost time. Just use it cautiously; start at 10 second intervals. Or let thaw a little and then pop in the toaster / toaster oven until warmed). Enjoy!

Thawing of Winter/Budding of Spring Cake Blog

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For the East Coast it has been a very long, very white winter. As March begins, so does the thawing and the change of putting on snow boots to rain boots. Gone is the white landscape to a now muddy one. There are cold days and there are warm days. And there are lots of children and dogs and cats with muddy feet and paws! As “our own back yard” is frequently our source of inspiration – the muddy shoes and paws and the thoughts of springtime planting were all there when this cake took ‘shape’.

Thawing of Spring

Thawing of Winter / Budding of Spring Cake

We turned a basic chocolate cake into a ‘mound’ then we covered it in various types of chocolate ‘dirt’, and finally adorned it with a simple little gum paste flower. This cake always makes me smile and serves as a reminder that spring and Easter are just around the corner…!

New Year, New Cheer!

Welcome  2014! It’s a new year – time for fresh resolutions, or old resolutions that are refreshed and re-energized. So many resolutions revolve around ones-self, and changing habits. Well, what I love about living somewhere that is ‘wintry’ in January, is that the weather is often such that I want to be home or at the bakery, and having the slowdown after the holiday order rush, I can pause and (hopefully) reflect before taking action.

Eloise's Pastries Liver Chip Cookies

At the bakery we are all about enjoying delicious items made with the highest quality ingredients – and that same standard goes into our Dog Liver Chip Nibbles. These morsels are made with human-quality ingredients, are gluten-free (for those dogs who have any sensitivity) and preservative free. And puppy approved! We had many neutral party  taste testers, and my oh my were they pleased!!!

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Now, how, are you wondering does this go hand in hand with the new years resolution theme? Perfectly. As you are making a decision to go for more walks, get your house more organized, the dog a new trick or improved manners, having a good -for your dog treat, that he wants to work for, will make you feel good too. And your dog will think you’re a hero!

As we sell Dog Nibbles online and locally, we will not be sharing that recipe. However, we are sharing some healthy human-delicious treats that you can share with your dog – as a refreshing snack after that walk you both enjoyed!

bananas-1Bananas – most dogs love bananas. While healthy they do have sugar, so make sure to keep it all in moderation – like a small part of the banana for your pup, and the rest for your smoothie!

 

ScrambledEggs

 

Scrambled eggs – Yep, plain unsalted  no butter scrambled eggs and their coat will have a beautiful sheen!

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Carrots – one for you – one for them :)!

 

 

Red-Tomatoes

Red Tomatoes – and the lengths they’ll go to get them! But wait, that’s a story for another blog! Let’s just say many dogs love tomatoes. Caprese Salad (tomatoes, cheese,  a drizzle of olive oil and basil leaf), one for you, and one small one for your canine companion.

Gingerbread Victorian Townhouse Row

We have started off the holiday season here at the bakery. Cakes, pies, and holiday specialties are throughout the bakery. And we are starting our gingerbread making, so to kick off this blog I am sharing our Gingerbread Townhouses from last year.  This 2 1/2 foot tall, 3 ft- long house set in a cozy winter scene, was a task my team was excited to get and happy to see delivered! Now, don’t get me wrong; it is fun and nostalgic doing gingerbread houses. Gingerbread mansions, they are, well, more delicate and require a lot more tlc. Thankfully, Bing Crosby serenading us with White Christmas made a notable difference to our disposition and its execution. 🙂

gingerbread house

Some of our lessons learned: Roll your gingerbread dough as absolutely thin as you can – especially the roof pieces. Roofs are heavy, meaning they need a lot of support, and having them be lighter, I found was to our advantage. Thinking through the assembling of the pieces. We found it worked best to adhere each roof piece to one of the side supports of the house, then add front and back piece, and then finally adhere the other side piece. I wish I could say we were fully present and did a photo documentary of our steps, but, alas, we were fully in construction mode.

gb_victorian_side copyAnother lesson: when my daughters’ were young, before my own-start-from-scratch gingerbread house making days, I used to think that it might be nice to make the gingerbread myself – but I never did because of time, planning, etc. Well, as an experienced gingerbread -maker, I say to those out there who contemplate the same thought – don’t do it, and don’t even spend a moment blinking an eye feeling bad about it. When you calculate the amount of time and preparation, and ingredients, and pieces that break until you get the hang of it – it’s not worth it.  Enjoy and fully embrace the pre-packaged ready to assemble gingerbread houses found in the store! (Use the time making gingerbread cut out cookies with the kids!). Enjoy what I think is the fun part, of decorating them! As gingerbread houses aren’t generally eaten anymore (if you are certain they won’t be) – you can even pre-assemble using hot glue.

Now, our construction gingerbread recipe is different from our gingerbread cookies/people that we offer (one is for construction; one is for devouring), so we suggest whether you make your own gingerbread structure or buy it, that you have gingerbread cookies on hand to resist temptation of eating the structure. (An absolute important lesson learned).

Ready, Set, Decorate, and that is the best part, in my opinion. Our gingerbread mansion was a victorian winter scene, not specific to Christmas or a Holiday, as our client requested, but make your own theme. Most importantly, have fun!

Some fun decorating ideas are : cereal for the roof tiles, long candy-cane sticks which can  act as structural support and festive details, peppermint wheels, very large gum-drops snipped into or stacked for  trees.  Another important tip:  royal icing is your ‘cement’, and for ‘construction’ work you want it to be quite stiff (if you pull a knife out of it the icing stays almost straight up). For detail piping you need a slightly thinner icing, so it flows but does not run out of the bag.  To get the different consistencies, follow the directions on the back of the meringue powder purchased at Walmart, JoAnnn’s, Michaels… and create for the thicker consistency. Later when ready for thinner icing simply add a little warm tap water, a few drops at a time, stirring in between until you get the somewhat thinner piping consistency. As an fyi- keep your royal icing coved as it will crust over and harden fairly quickly-!

Whatever your imagination can dream up will absolutely make the best gingerbread house ever!

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November – Giving Thanks

November – a month I immediately associate with family, Thanksgiving, and tradition. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and always add to the traditions our fore-fathers have passed down to us. This November I personally have much to be thankful for, as our own family is expanding with the marriage of my daughter to my new son-in-law. In many ways it feels like an early Thanksgiving, having all of our family gathered around to ‘eat, drink, and be merry’.

pumpkin pie harvest table

In a couple of weeks we will do a follow-up with a picture of the wedding cake  my daughter and new son-in-law chose.  One of my favorite joys of our bakery is being a part of our client’s special moments in life. I am incredibly blessed to share that joy with my own daughter’s experience, and I know it will become one of my favorites.

For this Thanksgiving blog- my recipe is for two – one for yourself and one to share/ give to a loved one, a stranger, co-worker or friend. As I associate pumpkins most particularly with this time of year, pumpkin will be the recipe ‘star’ this month.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie – this fun pie will travel great in the fall crisp air – and always pleases a crowd!

Graham Cracker Crust :

1 1/2 cups graham crackers

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted – **possible more needed to combine – up to 6 tablespoons total.

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined. If it’s not holding together when you squeeze a little between your fingers, like sand for a sandcastle, add a little more melted butter at a time until it is the right consistency. I suggest up to but no more than 6 tablespoons. Press it against the pan, the bottom first and then the sides. Bake at 350F for 7 – 10 minutes. When you start smelling it, it is ready to come out.

Set aside and allow it to cool before filling.

Filling:

1 quart good quality vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt ) **needs to be soft, almost soupy

1 cup plain canned pumpkin (*not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Add everything into a large bowl and stir together. The order on this doesn’t matter, so it’s a great dessert to do with kids. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined – and the taste checked (just remember to use a different spoon and not to redip 😉 ), pour it in the prepared crust and set it on a level place in the freezer to harden overnight or up to 6 hours.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to make to share! 🙂

October Blog – Ghoolashly Good

fall wreath

October, the month of change, transformation. The shortening of days, the changing color, the constantly cooling temperatures, the speeding up of time and the ability for one day to ‘put on’ a different self! Now, in all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Halloween. I like the fun of it, I love the innocence of seeing little children dressed up and being the most adorable super hero, fairy, dinosaur or princess. I love it when they are polite and adorable in asking for candy, their pride in showing off their ‘new persona’, and the special energy that the day brings. I enjoy dressing up our ‘every-day’ sweets in characters and halloween creations, almost always in themes that can only be produced once a year.

I love carving pumpkins and the artistry of it all. I hate having to pack it into ever – increasingly fast paced world of one day. Then having it shoved aside for the next holiday before it has arrived.

My mother, loved halloween because she loved things being not all as they seem. She would have loved to come and attend a dinner party of all food meals blue at the table (as the legendary Alfred Hitchcock once did).

So, with this in mind, instead of a sweet halloween treat, which is to be expected, we’re sharing this Halloween savory stew I found on food network several years ago.  And in true heirloom fashion, this recipe was submitted by a viewer; it is a recipe passed down through the generations, and now it is one of ours to be passed down, only this time with a  little Eloise’s flair.

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Happy Treating- This is ghoulishly good!

Jack O’Lantern Stew

Recipe courtesy Dawn Bergner

Prep Time: 25 min   Inactive Prep Time:15 min     Cook Time:1 hr 15 min     Level: Easy       Serves: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 (9 to 12-inch) pumpkin

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

4 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds

3 celery sticks, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

2 cups cooked rice (instant is okay)

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can tomato soup

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Rinse well. Carve a spooky face onto the pumpkin, without going all the way through the flesh. Rinse well, oil outside of pumpkin. Bake the pumpkin shell for 30 minutes.

While shell is baking: sauté the onion, green and red peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Brown ground beef and chicken. Add the veggies and cooked rice and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Remove pumpkin from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and soup into the meat mixture. Place meat mixture into pumpkin. Put back in oven for 20 minutes. Serve on a platter with cheesy biscuits- -very yummy.

Labor Day – September Blog

September. Begins with labor day and back to school. The long days of summer are now not so long, the (hopeful) cooler weather a nice respite from the heat of summer. Somehow with the purchase of school supplies and the beginning of fall, there seems a renewed anticipation and hope – at least a change or return to routine.

For the fortunate ones, the summer has brought a restoring break from the year, and are now returning with refreshed energy and spring in your step.

labor-day-parade-buffaloAt one point in our American history, labor day was a culmination of these things – A day of appreciation, pride, and break for the American workman. Every town had their own parade, waving flags, eating a big meal with friends and family. A day for both fun and relaxation.

labor-day

Now, it is often seen as the last ‘hoorah’ for those with children before school routine is second nature, it is the last celebration of summer (and the sense of abandon that goes with it).

Everyone needs a nutritious on the go refueling, and in honor of labor day and back to school routine, I decided to share my apple-carrot muffin recipe this month. They are a healthy start to the day and a good pick me up, especially if you add nut butter or cheese with it. And they are a perfect way to sneak vegetables and fruit into the diet of those in your life who would rather do with out….

Apple Carrot Muffins

makes 1 dozen muffins about 1 hour to prepare and bake

Ingredients :

1 3/4 cups bran cereal

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup peeled and finely chopped apple

3/4 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Mix bran cereal, flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.

Beat egg, buttermilk, and canola oil in a separate bowl.

Pour liquid ingredients into bran mixture; gently stir in apple, carrot, and walnuts.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing muffins to finish cooling on a wire rack.

August – Baking Tips

When my daughters were little and the summer break was just beginning to reach the end, I often found it was sometimes the hardest time to keep them busy and re-engage their minds. One of the ways I used to do this was by giving each of them one week in which they had to plan dinner for the week. That included grocery shopping (with myself, of course), taking the lead in meal preparation with supervision and help, as necessary, etc. It was quite an interesting insight into their personalities, as always, food is such a part of who you are, and what they chose certainly reflected that.

As they are MY children, dessert was always part of their meals; requiring much consideration, and it was a great way for me to teach them a lot of the basics in baking. (Though it has been constantly reinforced through out their lives, as I still get calls asking about this or that – much to my delight and occasional chagrin due to distance, when a wild disaster has occurred that needs salvaging).

Being inspired by the start of August and last few weeks of summer, I’ve decided to include in this blog some of my favorite baking tips that I think are essential to mastering the art of baking.

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• Always make certain you have all of the necessary ingredients – Baking is not the place for random substitutions or “close enough.”

  • Always read all the way through a recipe before beginning
  • Clean as you go. This will help you immensely at the end.
  • Creaming’ means with an electric beater beating the butter and sugar together, until it is soft and looks like mayonnaise
  • For eggs and butter to come to room temperature: leave out overnight or when you leave for work/school in the morning & they’ll be ready for you when you get home later in the day
  • Keep your hands as clean as possible! Wash,wash wash (sometimes after every step, if it’s a particularly messy recipe) NOTE: Never dry your hands or wipe your hands on the same towel you use for drying clean pots, pans, utensils, etc. Keep clean- clean! Never clean raw egg up off a counter with anything other an a paper towel. Raw egg rinsed out of a wash cloth and then used to wipe something down can still transfer bacteria / salmonella.
  • Dry Measure & Liquid Measure
    • Glass Measures are for wet ingredients including frozen or canned pureed fruits or vegetables as well as sour cream, cottage cheese, & ricotta cheese.
    • Measuring cup sets = ¼ cup up to 2 cups are for dry ingredients and need to have the flour, sugar, etc. “Spooned” into them and then leveled
    • Measuring has to be exact for a terrific outcome
    • Measuring Spoons = ¼ teaspoon up to 2 Tablespoons are universal and used whenever a small amount of anything is specified
  • • Never measure ingredients over the mixing bowl (especially salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour), as you want a precise amount and not any extra!
  • • When measuring a sticky liquid (like honey or oil), lightly grease your glass measure first
  • *      When a recipe’s baking time is for example 20 – 30 minutes, Always set the timer for the *shortest baking time and check *. Never open the oven door ” to check” before the timer goes off, as it changes the oven temperature!

Happy Baking! And enjoy with limeade or your preferred ice drink and a nice nibble of something sweet this warm August.