We tried a new pizza place down the street on Friday night, it was delicious! A great date night treat! Stone baked pizzas, that were fresh, with homemade, locally sourced and organic ingredients and some items imported directly from Italy.
The dough was so thin and crispy, it was the perfect size! It was so good that after a full day on Saturday, getting up before 6am and running around all day and doing some serious gardening we went back for dinner. Mr. Michie picked up a pizza for himself and some lasagna and a salad for me.
We planted flowers this weekend, washed the outside windows and cleaned everything up. I am trying to fight off a bad sinus infection, so Mr. Michie took care of me for the better part of the weekend. We made a pot roast with lots of veggies and served it over a saffron infused risotto for Sunday dinner, it was heavenly.
We also made some snickerdoodles to snack on. Happiness is a snickerdoodle!
This will be a post in two parts today since I just have so much to say! Firstly, today we walk into the first day of Lent. I know that this is a period of reflection and abstaining. I have spoken about this before and I shall speak about it again this year.
In my family we had the tradition of adding something to our daily lives, instead of subtracting it. We still gave up things (and if you chose to give up chocolate, what a blessed morning Easter Sunday was because it meant you could finally touch it again and oh boy did you hope that the Easter Bunny left you plenty in your basket!), but my parents always made sure that we added something to our daily/weekly lives that would be to the benefit of others.
I am going to get on my soap box for a moment here and say that I have always felt it is wonderful to give of oneself; it is marvelous that Church organizations and charity organizations help so many people around the world. I grew up in the South and I was always amazed at how many churches in my town took trips to Mexico, South America, Haiti, Cuba and Africa. Those were extremely valuable trips for all involved, but I think it is just as important to know where we are from, to teach your children and others what is around them as well.
You don’t have to go far to help someone in need. Not only were there people who needed help within my own community, you only had to drive a few hours into the mountains and there were families that would have benefited from a little extra help as well. Start in your own backyard, so to speak and branch out.
I had the great fortune to meet Mother Teresa when I was in High School and I read an article recently that quoted her; it sums up my thoughts, better than I could:
“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
I want to make it clear now that I am in no way demeaning the work that others do, to give of your heart and of yourself in any capacity is a wonderful act. I just think that sometimes we might need to be reminded we can still make a difference just where we are right now, we can make a difference in the place that we call HOME.
Secondly, we sit on the Eve of St. Valentine’s Day today and I thought I would do a last minute Valentine’s round-up. I have breakfast planned for Mr. Michie, I will be making homemade doughnuts tonight and working on my dessert for our Valentine’s dinner, but I will share more of that later.
In case you need a few last minute ideas, this is for you:
These cookies from the lovely Sweetopia Blog are just too SWEET! Learn how to make them here:
For those classroom Valentine’s where teachers won’t let you give out candy, Inchmark has come up with adorable bookmarks instead:
My Sunday afternoon grocery store surprise today was a gingerbread bat cookie mask. It was adorable, sparkly and delicious!
I held it up to my face and peered through the wings and then went in search of Mr. Michie, who laughed when he saw me.
I think another one might just jump into my hands this week, if I need to pick something up from the grocery store. It was the perfect treat and would taste wonderful alongside a steaming cup of hot apple cider!
Hope you are having a lovely weekend, wherever you are!
We made it through the first week of school! I feel like having a party! But, I am too tired, so I shall have a mini one instead in the form of date night. It is mine tonight and I am off to make homemade pizzas for Mr. Michie!
I missed it! I have been so busy with School these past few weeks, somehow in my GoogleReader, I missed this post from Sugar & Meringue! Her annual “National Sugar Cookie Day” publication. Last year’s was adorably presented, as was this year’s.
It is full of sweet recipes, how-to images and ideas. She has also posted an adorable tutorial on how to make “granny-square” decorated cookies. And, since making granny-squares for a blanket is on my to-do list this Summer, I am smitten with this idea. Enjoy!
(All images and publications copyright Sugar & Meringue)
Today, as September comes to a close the last little taste of Summer is clinging to it. Even though the sun shone bright this morning, through the mist on the common, it was still so cold. Our breath hung in little icy moisture droplets above us as we waited for our cherry red bus to come.
I love Summer and all it holds, but I love this time, when seasons change from one into the other and as the curtains draw on the final little bit of Summer and we kiss it goodbye, I welcome, with arms open-wide, all the best that Fall has to offer us. And one such thing is a bounty of gorgeous apples. I grew up on a farm and one of our staple crops were apples. There was nothing better than when my Dad, came home with the first of the year’s apple cider in frosty jugs for us to gobble down.
Apples in season, meant ever-ready bushels of sweetness awaiting us. Thin sliced apples with crackers and hoop cheese, fresh frosty cider, my Dad’s applesauce for breakfast and my Mom’s apple butter spread over hot biscuits. Fall holds a sweetness to it all of its own, a beauty of color and taste.
As we truly kiss the last of Summer goodbye and welcome in Fall, I found a recipe that I thought I would share with you, I have had cookies similar to this growing up and this was just something to delicious not to share!
Iced Apple Cookies
2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) cloves
1/4 teaspoon(s) nutmeg
1 1/3 cup(s) (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup(s) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup(s) pecans, chopped
1 cup(s) raisins
1 cup(s) chopped Red Delicious apple
1/2 cup(s) apple cider
2 tablespoon(s) apple cider
3 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
Make the batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the ﬂour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Cream the sugar and 3/4 cup butter in a large bowl until light and ﬂuffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the ﬂour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the pecans, raisins, apples, and 1/4 cup apple cider.
Bake the cookies: Drop by heaping tablespoon, 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten each mound slightly and bake 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, remaining cider, and butter until smooth. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of icing over each cookie. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Yesterday, it was particularly sunny and hot here in our little London Burb and homemade ice-cream sandwiches were definitely in order!
To begin with, you will need ice-cream (flavour of your choice), cookies (something softer is a bit better than a crunchy cookie, but it is up to you), sprinkles or nuts (if desired, to roll the edges in, we decided to be purist yesterday), a spatula or knife, waxed or parchment paper and the most important ingredient: someone to share them with.
Gather your ingredients around you and let your ice-cream be slightly softened, it will be easier to spread. I normally keep homemade cookie dough in the freezer, but I had run out, so cheated and bought cookies from my local bakery.
Lay your cookies down in front on you, bottoms up and spread ice-cream over one cookie, use as much or as little ice-cream as you want, alternatively you can use an ice cream scoop and place one scoop in the middle and then mash down with the top of your other cookie. Place the other cookie on top and press them together.
Fold them up in wax paper or parchment paper, creating a little parcel of happiness and place them in your freezer, they need to sit in here for at least 30 minutes for the ice-cream to harden. You can leave them in longer. These were made in the morning and not enjoyed until the evening after we had eaten dinner.
When you are ready to eat them, pull them out of the freezer, folding your wax/parchment paper back so that you have a little opening in which to munch away at your ice-cream sandwich, but the bottom is still covered to keep your hands clean.
Make sure you have a nice sunny day (or a cloudy one if you need something to cheer you up), a front porch to sit on or a nice walk to go on and most importantly someone you love to share it with, because that will make it taste that much sweeter!
“Hoot-Hoot!”, said Mr. Owl, who would like to be hoot-hooting on my kitchen counter filled with oatmeal cookies in his tummy!
I love this 1970’s-ish orange owl cookie jar from Anthropologie. He has a lot of personality. I keep searching for the right cookie jar to put in our kitchen.
Something vintage, something cute or cool or retro looking that brings with it a bit of charm and character and hopefully a story or two to tell about all the hands, big and little, that reached inside for a cookie or three.
(Wise Ol’ Cookie Jar image copyright Anthropologie, embellished by – J. Michie)
I found this adorable recipe on the Bake it Pretty Blog and I thought I would share. I love making shortbread, usually I just mould it into a pie shape and then cut it into thick wedges to have alongside a nice cup of tea. These would be perfect for a “Gnome Tea Party”, with Bake it Pretty’s gnome or mushroom sprig cake toppers placed on cupcakes and their gnome or snail shaped cookie cutters used for sugar cookies or to shape tea sandwiches. The possibilities are endless and I know I am already getting carried away with the ideas buzzing around in my head…
The use of a beer bottle dusted with cocoa powder is a fantastic idea to create that sweet squat mushroom stem. How inventive! Since I am in a shortbread baking kind of mood this weekend I thought about trying this recipe if we can squeeze it in to the crazy weekend that will be happening…
I have included their recipe if you want to try it for yourself:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees – yields approx. 42 cookies
1 – 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt
One empty soda or beer bottle (cleaned and dried)
Cocoa powder (about 1/4 cup)
Sift together flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar and salt. Add softened butter and vanilla, and mix thoroughly until a thick but light dough is formed. It should be soft but not too sticky, and easy to handle.
Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place about 1″ apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat mats. Place about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder into a small bowl, and about 1/4 cup water in to a separate small bowl.
Dip the top of the soda/beer bottle into water and shake off any excess. Dip the bottle into the cocoa powder and tap the side to shake if any excess. Gently press the bottle straight into one of your dough balls, pressing just barely into the dough, only about 1/4″ inch, then pull the bottle away.
Continue with the rest of your cookies, dipping your bottle into the cocoa between each pressing. If it gets too light, do another water-dip then keep going.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Take them out when they are just done, and barely the tiniest bit brown on the bottom. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
– You can substitute flour for the cornstarch if you like, it will make the cookies a little more dense and toothsome. I definitely reccomend using the cornstarch if possible, it really adds to the delicate and crumbly nature of the cookies.
(All images and recipe text copyright Bake it Pretty, cookie cutter image embellished by J. Michie)