Sunday, September 29, 2013


Easy Sticky Buns
Before you know it the holidays will be here and you will be frantically looking for that something "special" to serve on Christmas morning or to serve for a brunch or carry-in at work.  Look no further.  Olivia prepared this wonderful sticky bun recipe she got from Ina Garten.  They are light and sweet and just plain good.  You will enjoy this great recipe no matter what the occasion.

Easy Sticky Buns
Recipe from Ina Garten

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
For the filling:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful - they're hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Place the "stick bun" mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup.

Evenly spread the raisins and brown sugar over the puff pastry.
Once you've rolled up the pastry and cut it into pieces, place one "swirl" in each muffin cup.

Only allow these to cool five minutes so they will easily come out of the pan. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Today we enjoyed the most beautiful first day of Fall I can remember in a long time.  Beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures and all the plants and trees looking like they have passed their summer peak.  There are even a few hints of changing leaves here and there. Olivia and I were discussing this weekend around a cozy campfire how this change in weather makes us want to cook nourishing soups and stews that take the edge off the cold temperatures.

This soup is a beautiful creation Olivia came up with recently.  It combines the rich salty taste of pancetta with tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, spices, and more.  It is not only a pretty soup but one that marries a wide variety of flavors and textures.  Pair it with a piece of crusty bread and you will have a satisfying fall meal.

Italian Soup

Created by:  Olivia Coons
Servings:  6-8 total or 3-4 each use

3 oz. pancetta, sliced
½ of an 8.5 oz. jar of julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes in a jar, drained
2 leeks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. celery seed
4 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of water
black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. salt
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
19 oz. package of cheese tortellini, divided in half
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

1)   In a stockpot over medium heat, sauté the pancetta until it begins to crisp, stirring frequently.
2)   As the pancetta cooks, prepare the leeks.  Cut the greens off of the leeks just above where the white begins to turn green.  Discard the tops.  Slice the leeks length wise in half.  Chop each half of the leek into ¼ inch half moon shapes.  Transfer the leeks to a colander and separate the rings as you wash the leeks.  Leeks tend to have a lot of dirt built up between the layers, so cleaning them in this manor will help remove the dirt.
3)   After the pancetta is crisp, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towel to dry.  Add the leaks to the pan with the pancetta drippings, and turn the heat a bit past medium. 
4)   Stir in the garlic, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, thyme, celery seed, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes.  Cook until the leeks begin to soften.
5)   Add the water, chicken broth, peas, and pancetta to the pot and stir.
6)   Remove about half of the soup to a glass or plastic container and freeze for a later time.
7)   Bring the remainder of the soup in the pot to a boil.  Add half of the frozen tortellini to the boiling soup and cook according to package directions, about two minutes until the tortellini begin to float.  Return the other half of the tortellini to the freezer for later use.
8)   Spoon soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

***To prepare frozen soup, thaw the soup completely overnight in the refrigerator.   Bring the soup to a boil in a stockpot, and add the remainder of the frozen tortellini to the soup, cooking as stated in above restaurant.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Apple-Cranberry Pie and Apple Wedges in Cinnamon Red Hot Syrup
Autumn is fast approaching and the canning season will soon be winding down.  This week Olivia and her husband were the lucky recipients of a bushel of apples.  She offered to share and the peeling began!  This weekend she canned apples in a simple syrup.  One jar didn't seal so she made this wonderful apple-cranberry pie she found the recipe for in the Ball Blue Book food preserving guide.  She didn't have dates but did have raisins so she used those.  She said during the final baking she only went about 30 minutes because the pie was getting golden brown, so if you make this, watch the pie.  This pie is so pretty.

The other apple recipe we are sharing is also from the Ball Blue Book.  It is a apples in cinnamon red hot syrup.  I love red hots so this was a no-brainer for me.  See the recipe below and see the beautiful bright red results.  You can't go wrong with either one of these recipes.  I'm thinking the longer the apples sit in the red hot cinnamon syrup the better they are going to be.  This is going to be a yummy winter.

Apple-Cranberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup vegetable shortening
2⁄3 cup cold water
2 quart jars Apples for Baking (see recipe below)
½ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon allspice
¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries
¾ cup chopped dates
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
You will need:
Crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shortening into dry ingredients using a pastry blender just until mixture is uniformly coarse. Add water
one tablespoon at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition. Use just enough water for dough to hold together in a ball. Divide dough into two portions
with one slightly larger. Cover each portion of dough with plastic wrap, refrigerate.
Filling: Drain apples, reserving liquid. Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a medium bowl. Add drained apples and stir gently to coat evenly with
sugar mixture; set aside. Combine cranberries, dates, walnuts and orange zest in a bowl. Stir in two tablespoons reserved liquid from apples; let stand 10 minutes.
To Assemble Pie: Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll out larger portion of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1⁄8-inch thick and 2 inches larger than pie pan.
Place rolled dough into pie pan and gently work the dough to fit pan. Trim edge even with pie pan. Roll out remaining dough to 1⁄8-inch thick and 1 inch larger
than pie pan. Cut steam vents into crust; set aside. Spread cranberry mixture evenly over bottom of pie crust. Spoon the apple mixture evenly over cranberries to
cover. Cut butter into small pieces and place evenly over apples. Center top crust over pie and trim edge allowing ½-inch overhang. Fold edge of top crust under
bottom crust; flute the edge to seal. Bake pie at 450°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking 40 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned and the fruit is tender.

Apple Wedges in Cinnamon Red Hot Syrup 
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies
2 cinnamon sticks or two tsps. or cinnamon extract added to the syrup
2 tsp. whole cloves or 1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vinegar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp. red food coloring (optional)
24 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into eighths, treated to prevent browning and drained or 8-10 lbs.
Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine sugar, cinnamon candies, cinnamon sticks or cinnamon extract, cloves, ginger, water, vinegar, corn syrup and red food coloring, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add apples and stir gently over medium heat until apples are heated through, about 6 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks. Turn heat off, but leave saucepan on heating element while filling jars.
Using a slotted spoon, pack hot apples into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover apples, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup. Wipe rim. Center lid that has been heated in warm water on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner,ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 10 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Au Gratin Potatoes

Looking for something warm and yummy to make this fall?  Add this to your list of must make dishes.  Olivia and I are very busy this time of year with work, festivals, canning the last of the garden, cleaning up the garden, etc.  Having a great "go to" dish like this one is just the thing.  Enjoy!


    • 4 cups thinly sliced potatoes1 1/2 cups chopped ham2 small onions (or 1 medium), thinly sliced
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • 6 tablespoons flour
    • 3 cups milk
    • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
    • 2 dashes cayenne pepper
    • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
    • 1cup grated cheese, to sprinkle on top
    • paprika


  1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and blend in flour.
  2. Let sit for a minute.
  3. Add all of cold milk, stirring with a whisk.
  4. Season with salt and cayenne.
  5. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
  6. Reduce heat and stir in two cups of cheese.
  7. Place a half of the sliced potatoes in a lightly greased one quart casserole dish.
  8. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes.

  9. Evenly place the chopped ham over the potatoes.  Layer on the sliced onions as well.  Finally, repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

  11. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F.