Oatmeal Bread - Recipe

Oatmeal Bread | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

About 15 years ago we started using a bread machine, and it gets used in cycles. My husband actually uses it way more than I do and has gotten several loaves tweaked to perfection. We'll go through a period of making bread in it quite often, and then we'll have a period where we tend to consume little to no bread. I'm not sure why, but we're going through one of the upswings in the cycle right now. Sometimes we'll let the bread machine do everything, and sometimes I'll just use it to make the dough and finish the rest of the process myself in pans, crocks or stones. I love the process of knowing what is going into the foods we eat and minimizing the processed foods. I really don't want my daughter used to eating the substance-less "pillow" bread like the white bread loaves in the grocery store. So we experiment a bit with varying flours and flavors, but one we always keep in rotation is this Oatmeal Bread. It has a denser texture and slight chewiness, than typical white or wheat store-bought bread.

Oatmeal Bread with Homemade Apple Butter | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
Apple Butter Recipe


I have several sets of directions below for making without a machine, partially with a machine, or letting it do all the work.

Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients
1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 cup bread flour or other high protein flour
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp oatmeal
2 Tbsp dry buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast

Bread Machine Directions
Add wet ingredients to the bread pan
Add dry ingredients and form a well in the top of the dry ingredients
Pour yeast into well of dry ingredients
Use the Sweet Cycle with a Light Crust option, I don't recommend the Rapid Cycle for this bread.

Oatmeal Bread After 2nd Rise | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
Sprinkle with oatmeal before baking, you can't beat the appearance of a manual 2nd rise.
This is before baking, the molasses gives it a rich brown color.

Manual Rise Directions
Add wet ingredients to the bread pan
Add dry ingredients and form a well in the top of the dry ingredients
Pour yeast into well of dry ingredients
Use the Sweet Cycle Dough option, I don't recommend the Rapid Cycle for this bread.

Turn dough out into an oiled bowl, and flip to coat.
Place into either 2 loaf pans, or a large oven safe bowl or stoneware or pan.
Either slash top in crosshatch pattern or sprinkle with oatmeal.
Let rise approx 45-50 minutes in warm place, or heat the oven for 1 minute and turn it off and let it rise in the oven.
Preheat oven to 400, bake for 35-40 minutes depending on how you like your crust.

Manual Directions
Add wet ingredients to the bowl of a mixer
Add dry ingredients and form a well in the top of the dry ingredients
Pour yeast into well of dry ingredients
Using the dough hook, turn it on medium to incorporate, then turn it down to low and let knead for 8 minutes.
Turn the mixer off and cover the bowl with a warm damp dish towel and let rise until double in size (approximately 45-50 minutes)
Turn mixer on low for 5 seconds to punch down.

Turn dough out into an oiled bowl, and flip to coat.
Place into either 2 oiled loaf pans, or a large oven safe bowl or stoneware or pan.
Either slash top in crosshatch pattern or sprinkle with oatmeal.
Let rise approx 45-50 minutes in warm place, or heat the oven for 1 minute and turn it off and let it rise in the oven.
Preheat oven to 400, bake for 35-40 minutes depending on how you like your crust.

Oatmeal Bread | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
This cooked for 40 minutes and has a slightly darker, harder, crunchy crust with a
lovely soft, chewy interior.  Much of the darker color of this bread is due to the molasses.

Tip
For a perfectly formed "loaf" of bread in a loaf pan, roll out dough after punch down to a rectangle or somewhat even thickness with one width being the length of your loaf pan. Roll up into a log the length of your pan and place it in the oiled loaf pan to rise seam side down. You will end up with a "perfect" loaf of bread.


Deep Cleaning

Since I'm a little behind I haven't been sticking to a room a day. Decluttering and purging first really makes the deep cleaning go faster. I don't exactly see decluttering and purging as the same thing. Purging to me means simply getting rid of the unnecessary and unwanted excess, where as decluttering would include purging, but also include moving things to their proper homes and/or into storage areas to lessen the stifling overload of too much visual clutter.

Forgive me while I daydream of spring a bit, it's still snowing here.

Spring cleaning clothesline | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
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A few posts for reference.
My Top 7 Spring Cleaning Tips
My Spring Cleaning Checklist
How Do I Clean?
Bathroom Cleaning Tips - makes the deep cleaning much easier!

These posts include both a deep clean list and quick clean list for each room:
Cleaning the Kitchen
Cleaning the Dining Room and Entry
Cleaning the Living Areas
Cleaning the Bedrooms
Cleaning the Extra Rooms
Clean the Bathrooms and Laundry

What I've been working on:
Picking up the aftermath of a toddler party with 10 3-4 year olds, tiny toys are surfacing in all sorts of odd locations
I've been wiping down shelves and knickknacks, curios and ephemera with wood cleaner and/or damp rags
Wiping down baseboards, walls, light fixtures, outlet plates, switch plates, door handles
Making note of repairs that need to be done, filters, light bulbs or batteries to replace
Emptying and vacuuming or wiping out drawers and shelves
Washing windows (inside at least, I'll do the outside once the snow is gone... in July?)

This weekend we'll be vacuuming and shampooing all the carpets, and vacuuming all the upholstered furniture and mattresses. Normally, I'd do that with the rest of the room, but I need some assistance moving furniture and with a toddler one of use has to keep her occupied. Plus, the vacuum is a bit noisy after she crashes and the house is a very open floor plan.

Spring Cleaning Derailed

Despite my best efforts, Spring Cleaning is going to be completely delayed a week. My daughter came down with a stomach bug and has been out of school for 3.5 days. While I tried to clean, because I was home, realistically I was just picking up after her and cleaning what she had messed up earlier that day.  The house is clean, but it's not deep cleaned, which is the point of spring cleaning for me.  Getting all the nooks and crannies that normally get glossed over.


She's almost 3, so I looked forward to nap time to clean and catch up on work a bit remotely. She decided it was a good week to declare a moratorium on naptime. Seriously?

So, keeping it real here, I have done no spring cleaning this week, well unless you count the spice shelf... the 1 spice shelf, not both of them, just 1. Yeah, I got a whole lot of nothing done. On the plus side, I did take some cute pictures of her yesterday. I'll update this post with a few tonight.







How's your spring cleaning going?

Spring Cleaning - Purge Week

By the time I was done with work, dinner, purging and bedtime, I struggled to find time to post last week. To catch up a bit:

How to Decluter Bedrooms
How to Declutter Extra Rooms
How to Declutter the Kitchen
Go here for the complete guide.

In the bedroom, I went through my nightstand and cleared it out, I had been storing a few tank tops in the bottom drawer, but they are now in a purge bin instead. When we bought our bedroom set several years ago, I did not buy a dresser. I purposefully chose to eliminate dressers from our bedroom and our kids bedroom, "stuff" can't get piled on top over time, and we have a few drawers in the closet for the items which can not be hung. So the master bedroom wasn't too bad to go through.

I also went through my daughter's bedroom, removed the last bits of 2T clothing and resorted her clothing baskets. She has a lot of books that I keep thinking of moving out, but once again I chose to leave them. She's too old for several of them, however when she starts reading and identifying words they'll be perfect to have around for a while. She's sort of on the cusp of being able to read, so they made the cut one more time. I did have to relegate a few of her toys back to the basement yet again. The baby toys, which she stopped playing with 2 years ago and were put in the basement then, are suddenly so interesting and fun when she finds the bins. So she'll drag them upstairs one at a time, until I go through and sort again, and have to send them all back downstairs again.

I tried to tackle the back hall closet, but I pulled most of my stuff out of there 2 years ago and it's mostly my hubby's now, so I gave up on that. I learned early on in our marriage to never throw away something of his, even if it seems broken or holey or worn out or trashed.

I also did not get to the kitchen on Saturday, so I'll have to catch up on that during cleaning and organizing, or the last week.

I love this bedroom, and have it pinned as my inspiration for a master bedroom redo, some day!
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How did your week go?


Monday Musing - Morris

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
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Pita Pockets - Recipe

Craving a chicken salad sandwich last night, I made up a quick batch of pita pockets. These are delicious and taste amazing freshly made, like most everything else. This makes approximately 8 6-8" pitas depending on how thick you roll them out. A stand mixer makes this recipe a cinch, however it can be made by hand.



Pita Pockets
Ingredients
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
3 cups flour, divided + flour for dusting
1 tsp salt

Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, dissolve sugar in the warm water and sprinkle yeast over the top.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of flour and let mix into a batter consistency.
Add remaining flour and salt and turn the mixer on medium-low and leave to knead for 8-10 minutes.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface, divide dough into 8-10 pieces depending on how big you want your pitas. (I make a few 4" ones for my toddler, and the rest approx 6")
Roll into 1/4" thick circles, try to maintain an even thickness, that's what causes the pocket action instead of lots of bubbles.
Place on a baking stone, or a parchment paper or silpat covered baking pan. Leave to rise 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425.
Gently flip the pitas over and cook for 12-15 minutes at 425.

For storing, let cool when they come out of the oven completely before putting away.  Wrap tightly and use within 2-3 days, or store in the freezer if you want to make several batches. To thaw quickly wrap lightly in a damp towel (paper towel) and stick in the microwave for 15-30 seconds (depends on your microwave).

Family Room Purge

My family room has a wall of shelves, the bottom of which are full of toys which desperately need a good sorting through, which I will do this weekend. They aren't getting purged, just put away for the next little one. Everything else I sorted through. Here is the how-to declutter post for the living room.

More candles, I seriously have too many candles since I never burn them anymore with a toddler around.
A few decorations that I'll relocate or purge
A bunch of magazines, I used to keep a lot of magazines, now I get rid of them pretty much right away, since I get most of my inspiration online
A few extra vases that have come with supermarket flowers

I recently went through all my craft stuff and gave away all the crafting things that I knew I'd realistically never use. I had acquired a bit of scrapbooking items, but realistically, I do digital scrapbooking and don't take the time to do anything with the paper and supporting bits, so I passed them all off to a friend of mine, so I didn't have much there to purge.

What did you purge or declutter?

Love this room, well with about half the pillows and throws and candles.
Living Room Purge | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
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Dining Room Purge

Thankfully, my dining room and dinette haven't gotten too bad. Here is the how-to declutter post for the dining room.

I had a few old birthday banners that I decided to purge
I set aside a few candles to give away that I really don't care for the scent
The buffet drawer had a few odds and ends that I've been hanging on to for quite a while, which I purged (if I haven't figured out what they belong to by now, I likely never will)
And two placemat and napkin sets that were given to me, but aren't my style and have never been used

Did you manage to find anything to purge or declutter?

I repinned this dining room twice several months apart, I guess I really like it!

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Bathroom Purge

Since I've done the how-to on purge and declutter steps before I thought I'd just link them up. I started with my bathrooms since I knew they'd be pretty easy, I threw away a few things past their prime and made note of a few things I'd like to "containerize" in week 3.

My guest bathroom has 3 tall built-in cabinets, similar to medicine cabinets, but rather tall. That is the only storage in that room and one of those cabinets is our toilet paper storage (they are exactly 1 roll deep), so I only had 2 cabinets to sort through. I relocated a few things that had collected in there, but there wasn't much purging to be done.

The master bathroom has four under sink cabinets and 1 tall linen closet, so I found a bunch of things to clear out:
A bunch of hair product from the days when I used to flatiron my hair and two flatirons to give one of my nieces
A bunch of perfume samplers that I'll never use, which my nieces can have or pitch
A few towels were relocated to the dog towel bin, for bedding, dirty paws, baths, etc
A few items past their prime were pitched from the medicine basket
The far 2 cabinets hold puppy items and kid bath items, I need to get a couple plastic bin to corral the things in those cabinets better and to keep them from getting lost to the back recesses of the cabinets


I'll keep a running list of things I need to either relocate from other areas of the house or purchase for my organizing week, as I go through the rooms purging I'll make note of anything that can be relocated.

Week 3 scavenger/shopping list:
3 rectangle plastic vented bins : 1 for the puppy stuff, 1 for bath toys, 1 for kid bath products
1 new bath mat for the master bathroom

How did your bathroom purge go?

Just a little eye candy, my inspiration photograph for my master bath.
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Spring Cleaning

I'm so over winter and ready for spring. It's still quite cold here, and we're still bundling up in wool and snow suits with plenty of snow on the ground. Yet, we're opening the windows a bit during the day to air out the house. I'm tired of the stuffiness of a house shut up for winter. I'm ready to do a declutter, purge, and thorough spring cleaning! Care to join me?

Spring Cleaning at Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers



I usually spend a week purging, a week deep cleaning, a week organizing and a week on the miscellaneous repairs or special projects. I divide the house up into zones to tackle on each day, and always give myself a day off each week to take a break and enjoy. This month I am also planning a birthday party for my daughter on the 13th, so I need to leave myself enough time to get that done.

I'll be deep cleaning the entire house, however these are the areas that I plan on concentrating on this year that I know need a little extra help.

For purging: closets, linens, my drawers, and the kitchen.
For cleaning: electronics, the stove, doors & windows, soft furnishings & textiles, registers & grates
For organizing: miscellaneous drawer, pantry, bathroom closets, front hall closet, garage (tall order)
Special project: create a guest room/craft room out the bedroom in the basement and finish the bathroom in the basement

My zones this spring (I'm going from least amount of work to be done to most):
Monday: Bathrooms
Tuesday: Dining Room(s) (formal/casual/kitchen dining rooms)
Wednesday: Living Room(s) (living/family/game/rec rooms)
Thursday: Bedrooms
Friday: Other Room(s) (hall closets, foyers, mud room, laundry room)
Saturday: Kitchen
Sunday: Family Fun Day!

If you'd like to jump around and do your own thing, but are looking for some sort of guide, check out the September ShapeUp Guide from a few years ago. I do a bit of a mini "spring cleaning" in the fall as well to get ready for the holidays and get all the summer bits put away and pull out all the cozier things we need for fall and winter here. Otherwise, join along here and on Facebook.



Monday Musings - Rilke

It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. - Rainer Maria Rilke | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers


Cheese Cream Crackers - Recipe

This weekend I gave my daughter the last of our crackers from the cupboard, it's her default snack choice these days... crackers and apple. I found myself needing to make crackers, but all I had left in the fridge was some mozzarella and some feta cheese. Since mozzarella wouldn't add a whole lot of flavor to a cheese cracker I went with the feta.

Cheese Cream Crackers | Candy Hearts & Paper Flowers


I'll be honest, I didn't really have high hopes for they way these would turn out due to the moisture content of feta, but figured they'd be fine until I could get to the grocery store for some sharp cheddar. I was so wrong! They didn't quite crisp up quite as much as I'd have liked, but the flavor was delicious, especially with tomato soup for lunch. They also would have benefited from some whole wheat flour, but I was out. Did I mention I needed to get to the grocery store?

Generally I do a combination of cheddar for cheese and pepper for seasoning, or Parmesan and Italian seasoning, but the feta and pepper I made this weekend was quite good and I highly recommend giving it a try at least once. I don't add additional salt, if you would like your crackers saltier add up to 1/2 tsp salt. If you have it, I like to use the Pampered Chef Pastry Cutter with the crimper wheel to cut these, it gives it a little bit of a "Saltine" style edge to it. Also, I cut cheese crackers into diamonds and regular crackers into squares, easier for my family to tell at a glance what kind of crackers they are without asking me.

Cheese Cream Crackers
Ingredients
1 cup flour (substitute up to 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup cheese
4 tablespoons cold butter
seasoning to taste, about a 1/4 tsp
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/3 cup cream

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Add the flour, cheese, butter, seasoning and salt to a food processor, and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the cream until it just comes together into a dough (it takes exactly 1/3 cup for me, might need a tiny bit more in drier climates or high altitudes).
  4. Turn the dough out and divide into 2 sections.
  5. Roll the dough out to 1/16 - 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a sharp knife, pizza wheel or dough wheel, or for fun use cookie cutters.
  6. Bake on ungreased stoneware or cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Start watching them at 10 minutes, you may need to pull them out in small groups. Once they are golden brown on the edges and top, pull them off the stone and continue to cook the ones that need more time. Cook time is going to be dependent on cracker size and thickness, so the more uniform they are, the easier to gauge the cooking time.
  8. When removed from the oven, place the crackers on a wire rack with no overlapping to cool, you want the steam to escape. Do not store until completely cooled or you'll end up with soft crackers. If you need to "fix" soft crackers, place in a 200F oven for about 10-15 minutes to dry out.
  9. Roll out remaining dough and bake, or wrap tightly and stick in the refrigerator to make later (up to 1 week, if wrapped well)

Monday Musings - Baum

I've been out of town for a week, and while I skyped with my family as often as possible, it's not the same. My daughter hugging the computer wanting me to hug her back just broke my heart.

There's no place like home | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
print by Ashley Goldberg

Strawberry & Lemon Marshmallows - Recipe

For my daughter's first birthday I had a pink lemonade theme, and made some homemade lemon and strawberry marshmallows.  I dipped the bottoms in a light coating of white chocolate and put them on sticks to make it easier for the kids to handle. I'll be making some new flavors for her 3rd birthday this year.


Strawberry Marshmallows
INGREDIENTS

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 cup dried strawberries, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp strawberry extract or flavoring
red food color
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Lemon Marshmallows
INGREDIENTS

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp lemon extract
yellow food color
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

DIRECTIONS
Sift together confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.  Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 13" by 9" baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, not necessary but helpful. Then sift about 1/8 cup of the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture onto the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let stand until softened (about 15 minutes)

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt, lemon peel or dried strawberries and 1/2 cup cold water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Use a wet pastry brush and wipe sugar crystals from the sides of the pot, boil for about two minute. Boil on high, until the syrup reaches 240F, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Using a whisk attachment, turn your mixer on low and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin. Slowly increase the speed to high and beat until it comes together and looks like thick marshmallow fluff, about 10 minutes. Add extract and 2-5 drops of food coloring (until color desired is reached, I wanted it pale so only used 3) beat to combine, about 30 -60 seconds.

If you use butter to lightly butter the rubber spatula first it makes it easier to spread out.  Pour marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a rubber spatula, scraping out the bowl.  Sift about 1/8 cup of the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture onto the marshmallows and let stand, uncovered on the counter until set, about 3-6 hours (depends on humidity).

Run a knife around the perimeter of the pan, and invert onto a cutting board which has been dusted with about 1 TBSP of the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture.  Put remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture in a bowl.  Peel off the parchment paper, if you used it and cut the marshmallows into small squares.  I do about 1"x1" squares.  Toss in sugar and cornstarch mixture in the bowl, shake off and store in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper.

Just a Minute...

Jen formerly of August Street, now Crafty Type, used to have a Just A Minute feature, which I enjoyed.


Reading... The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland

Making... goodies for Kirsten's Easter basket and decorations for her birthday party

Watching... Firefly, I've seen it before, just rewatching


Listening... to Kirsten goofing around, making up silly stories about a dragon and her baby

Loving... getting ready for Spring

Dreaming... of the day we get a call about our next little bundle of joy

Planning... Kirsten's Hello Kitty birthday party and the garden layout for this year

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Alicia's gorgeous garden, you really should go take a peek at Posie Gets Cozy. I love her blog, it was one of the first I started reading. Mine will be a big tilled up patch of soil at my in-law's farmstead, so not very pretty, but quite functional nonetheless.

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Baking... test runs for Kirsten's birthday cake

Lamenting... the demise of Google Reader and finding a new RSS feed reader... so I'm trying out Bloglovin this week. Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Cocktails - Recipes

Just a small sample of my favorite cocktails that are consistent favorites at our yearly cocktail party.


Appletini
1 oz Shakka Apple Liqueur
2 oz Apple Juice
1 oz Smirnoff Apple

Shake with ice, strain into martini glass
optional: Garnish with apple cubes or slices

Ocean Breeze
1.25 oz Malibu rum
.75 oz Curacao
.5 oz Orange juice
.5 oz Pineapple juice

Shake with ice, strain into martini glass
optional: Garnish with an orange slice or pineapple spear

Mojito
3 oz Light rum
Juice of 1 Lime (1 oz)
2 tsp Sugar
2 Mint sprigs, crushed in glass to release flavor
Soda water
Muddle mint and sugar together into shaker with a splash of soda water
Add remain ingredients, shake with ice
Strain into highball glass
optional: Rim glass (dip in lime juice, then sugar) and garnish with a mint sprig

Raspberry Creme
1 oz Chambord
1 oz cream
1 oz creme brulee liquer (Just Desserts)

Shake with ice, strain into martini glass
optional: Garnish with White Chocolate shavings, or a raspberry

A personal favorite:
Pomegranate Champagne
2 oz champagne
1 oz pomegranate juice
0.5 oz orange liquer: Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/2 tsp simple syrup

Shake orange liquer, pomegranate juice and simple syrup with ice, strain into champagne glass
Pour in champagne and stir gently
optional: Garnish with pomegranate arils

20 Little Things in Spring

Several years ago, 2009 to be precise I did a 20 Little Things in Spring post. It was before my daughter was born and I thought it'd be fun to do another, then compare them afterwards.

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  1. Taking nightly walks and watching Kirsten ride her tricycle
  2. Blowing bubbles and watching Kirsten catch them before the grass pops them
  3. The squeals of delight of Kirsten at the park "Mommy, look at me!"
  4. Little skirts and sandals revealing the scraped knees and bruised shins of my princess tomboy 
  5. Taking lots of pictures outside
  6. Baby bunnies frolicing in the back yard
  7. Morning dew on the green peeking out of the ground in the flower beds
  8. The house the day after spring cleaning
  9. Early morning coffee on the back patio
  10. Opening all the windows to air out the house
  11. Waking up to birds chirping
  12. Trading my heavy winter clothes for lighter colors and fabrics
  13. Trading heavy down comforters for lighter quilts and blankets
  14. Greeting neighbors as we all begin work on our yard clean up
  15. Seeing all the kids in their Easter best at church
  16. Hiding eggs for days on end, because Kirsten loves to find them again and again
  17. Fire pits on the weekends
  18. Browsing the garden centers and starting seedlings
  19. Filling my window boxes and urns with flowers
  20. The soft tapping of rain on the roof and windows
A quick glance back shows me not too much has changed...

What do you look forward to in Spring?

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread - Recipe

Nothing goes better with Chili then a little cornbread. Especially when said cornbread is sweet buttermilk cornbread, hot out of the oven, slathered with butter and drizzled with honey, with a crispy outside from a hot cast iron skillet. Is your mouth watering yet? I'm going to share my cornbread secrets with you, and I've been told many a time that my cornbread is the best!

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

Secret #1: Buttermilk
Secret #2: Honey
Secret #3: Hot Skillet

Don't have buttermilk? I keep a buttermilk powder on hand for baking when you want the buttermilk flavor, without added liquid. Or quickly make your own: for the 1 1/2 cups this recipe calls for, remove 1 1/2 Tbsps milk from 1 1/2 cups of milk and add in 1 1/2 Tbsps of vinegar or lemon juice, and let it sit for 5 minutes, then add to the recipe.

Now, this week I got to up the secret factor, because I got to use some AMAZING honey, and I don't know if I'd ever be able to live up to it with any old honey again. I got my honey from Haff Apiaries (701.663.1619‎) in Mandan, North Dakota, it's raw unpasteurized honey and the best I've ever tasted. I also used White Lily White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix, this is hard to find up here in North Dakota, so I order it online. While I do think it makes a better cornbread, you can use whatever corn meal you have.

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread
INGREDIENTS
2 cups White Lily White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix
-OR-
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour

1 1/2 cup buttermilk
-OR-
1 1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp buttermilk powder

1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tsp honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS
Generously grease 8-10" cast iron skillet (I use butter flavored shortening for this, butter just doesn't do as good a job)
Preheat skillet in oven to 425
Measure cornmeal (and flour, if needed) into a bowl and stir (with a wooden spoon) it up to break up large clumps
Add remaining ingredients and mix until just moist, it will have some clumps
Pour into skillet and put in oven for 20 - 30 minutes (depends on the skillet size, start checking on it at 20 minutes. You want the top to get to a nice deep golden color.

Biscuits - Recipe

Biscuits are so easy, unless I'm camping I doubt I'll ever buy canned biscuits again. Just 3 ingredients on a Sunday morning and you can have homemade fluffy biscuits to slather with butter and homemade jam.

3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers


Biscuits
INGREDIENTS

2 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
3/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tbsp butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 500F.

Measure flour into a large bowl.
Add shortening/butter and cut in with a pastry blender (or knives or a quick pulse or two on a food processor.)
Pour in milk/buttermilk and stir with a fork until the dough just pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Gather the dough with your hands, then turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 2-3 times, until it just comes together. Pat out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 2" biscuit cutter dipped in flour (or a glass or cookie cutter or canning jar lid, whatever you have on hand.) You will have 9 plus scraps, I usually lightly twirl the scraps together and use them for sampling when the biscuits are done.

Grease and flour or spray a baking sheet 8"x8" or larger.

Place biscuits in sheet, for softer biscuits place them right next to each other, for crispier edges place them farther apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes.

Brush tops with melted butter fresh out of the oven.

Monday Musings

I have a bit of a two-part Monday Musings today, I thought this would go quite well with Paperman, a short from Disney. I'm a little behind and saw it for the first time this weekend. It is a sweet little story about love at first sight? Attraction at first site? Anyway, a man, a woman, a windy day and a bit of paper make quite a stunning short.  Enjoy!

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
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Paperman Video : Disney's Short | Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers
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Swedish Almond Cake - Recipe

This is very easy to make and tastes delicious. It's a bit dense, and typically served with a light dusting of powdered sugar, but I rarely bother with that. I've made these in mini loaf pans, but without being able to twist the pan there is no way to get them out cleanly. A springform pan would probably work because you can run a knife between the cake and pan to pop it out. I'd highly recommend the almond cake pan though, this is my go to dessert for company. It's easy to make, stays moist and lends itself well to other flavors by just changing the extract. I've made it with rum, lemon, orange and, of course, almond.




Swedish Almond Cake

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsps pure almond extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour the swedish almond cake pan, or use non stick spray.
In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar, milk, egg and almond extract.
Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour melted butter into the bowl and stir until incorporated.
Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes at 350F.
The cake is done when a cake tester or knife inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before popping it out of the pan, or it will stick terribly.
Twist the pan back and forth to loosen, then it should come out.

Fresh out of the oven, golden brown on top, but the rest is very pale in color.

Valentine's Snapshot

This year Valentine's Day is going to be all about my little girl. Since my husband and I are going out to dinner and a play on Friday night, I'm going to make Thursday into a fun day for her. I'd like to make it special this year for her, last year she didn't really care, but this year she is really excited for it. She helped make valentines for her classmates and has been talking about the party all week when she'll get to pass them out.

Gotta love her "cheese" grin.

Her morning will start with a heart attack on her door.
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For breakfast we'll have pink milk and muffins with strawberry jam hearts.
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Then she'll head off to school, for a day of fun and a party at the end of the day.

Her teachers are getting hand hearts wrapped around lotion.
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And her classmates are getting little packs of mini-M&M's with a little Bee Mine Love Kirsten valentine that she put together, which I'll show you tomorrow.  They are very simple, since I wanted her to be able to help glue and punch them out.

We'll have dinner (Kirsten's choice, likely spaghetti!) and strawberry fudge for dessert
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Then we'll finish off the evening with snuggle time: A Charlie Brown Valentine and popcorn
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I hope she loves it, I think she will. What are your plans for Valentine's Day?

Baked Macaroni & Cheese - Recipe

Baked Macaroni and Cheese is on my list of personal comfort foods. This is not the neon orange cheese food that comes in a box from Kraft (though I admit I love that as well), but rather a creamy concoction started on the stovetop, but finished to a crusty perfection in the oven. If you'd like something a little quicker you don't have to finish in the oven, but then you lose the combination of the crusty goodness along the edges and top mixed with the creaminess in the middle. I always use finely shredded sharp cheddar, but feel free to use your cheese of choice. For a sharper flavor, substitute a 1/2 cup of the cheddar for a 1/2 cup of blue cheese. This recipe is featured in one of my favorite cookbooks, the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, and made with little variation it's just that good. The only way to really mess this up is to use high instead of medium heat when using the saucepan.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese - Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers



Mac and Cheese

Ingredients assembled

Whisk flour and melted butter until smooth

Add Milk and whisk until thick and bubbly

At this point you can either cook it for another 5 minutes or place in buttered casserole dish and bake

Baked with a paprika, cracker topping



Baked Macaroni and Cheese
INGREDIENTS
8 oz cooked macaroni, elbow or spiral shaped work best
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white flour
2 cups milk, I use skim (it's probably intended to be whole)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp salt
paprika (optional)
crumbled butter cracker (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Assemble ingredients before use, this is fairly important for this recipe.
In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter
Whisk in flour until smooth, continue whisking for 1 minute over medium heat
Slowly pour in milk while whisking
Continue stirring over medium heat until thick and bubbly about 6-7 minutes
Switch from a whisk to a spoon (wooden recommended)
Stir in cheese and salt until melted and smooth
Add to macaroni and stir in to coat
Pour into buttered casserole dish
Sprinkle with paprika and/or crumbled butter crackers (like Townhouse Crackers)
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes

If you want to skip the baking, just stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes after combining the macaroni and cheese mixture.