Holiday Ups and Downs

Tags

,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/holiday-ups-and-downs/
Twitter
RSS feed

Life happens on a continuum.  Regardless of the circumstances, nothing is ever really 100% to the good side or 100% to the bad side.  Today we are going to share our top ups and down of the holiday season.

from Kris B.

My least favorite part of the holiday season is the busy-ness of my life leading up to Christmas Day.  Most of this busy-ness is the good kind of busy, but for me who believes that the journey toward and the preparation for Christmas is an important part of appreciating Christmas Day itself, frantically moving through these weeks can be a bit disheartening and can diminish my joy.

It is the end of the semester for me, which is a good thing.  With that, however, comes the work of writing, giving, and grading final exams.  That is a finite process, but an intense one while it is happening.  Though this time next week, my final grades will all be submitted and the majority of my work responsibilities will be on hold until after the new year!

As a church musician, there is lots of music happening right now, too…Advent Lessons and Carols and preparation for all of the beautiful music on Christmas Eve.  Again, good stuff, but lots of time spent rehearsing.

In the midst of the preparations for Christmas come the birthdays of both of my girls – December 22nd and 23rd.  As one who also has a birthday during the Christmas season, I have always worked hard to honor the girls’ birthdays totally outside of the holiday season – no “double duty” gifts, no birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper, no mixing up any kind of holiday celebrations with birthday celebrations.  Their birthdays are to celebrate their them and the gift of their lives.  And, even though their birthdays are only a day apart, our family also never celebrates both birthdays on the same day.  We all deserve at day that is totally about us!  So, it’s Brooke on the 22nd, Erin on the 23rd, Jesus on the 25th, and me on the 28th.  It’s the most wonderful/crazy/ time of the year!

When it comes down to it, my least favorite and most favorite parts of the holiday season are the same things.  It’s all a matter of perspective.  Where are that continuum do I choose to sit.

from Tracey G.

Oh boy, yep the Good, Bad and the Ugly of the holiday season is never really cut and dried is it? I’m with Kris in that, my favorite things usually are also the things that make me crazy, lol.

I love it the baking aspect  – it’s a license to go nuts and make a bunch of stuff for the fun of it, but it also has a “purpose”. I work much better when I have a mission, than if I’m left to my own devices to pick something to make just for fun. Like for the decorated cookies, there are SOOOO many I want to make that I would spend all my free time trying to decide WHICH ones to make – but when it’s a holiday I’m working on, that makes it so much easier for me.

But then, comes the proper planning and timing. I’ve always been one who wanted them ready at the closest possible time to Christmas, but that tended to take the fun out of it because it becomes a rush to get a bunch of baked goods made – thereby sucking all the fun out of making “a bunch of different things!” that made it fun for me, lol. I am thinking that I need to let go of that, and, as long as people get their treats any time in the month of December, I’m good. I like that making of the goodies – but having a marathon weekend rushes me through the things I love to do.

I also love Christmas shopping for Harry, but that brings me back to the problem of trying to figure out what to get for the boy who really doesn’t mention anything that he’d like. So, I go on the “hunt”. Which in a way can be fun, if I figure out a direction to go. But something I’ve noticed – it seems to be that once I do find a direction/mission, the item(s) will be all but impossible to find! It happens every year for his Birthday in February as well. It’s like the Universe plays a little practical joke on me! Ugh!

But all that said, I think this year, I’m handing out my baked-good goodies as they are manufactured, to save myself some headaches and keep the FUN part in the act of preparing them!!!!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/holiday-ups-and-downs/
Twitter
RSS feed

Tuesday in Texas – Decorating in Due Time

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/tuesday-in-texas-decorating-in-due-time/
Twitter
RSS feed

Let’s talk about Christmas…

It is December 4th.  I have bought a few Christmas gifts. I have knit a few Christmas gifts.  I have thought about some gifts that I need to purchase.  We do have outdoor lights up because our lawn guy hangs them for a little extra holiday spending money.  But other than that, Christmas is not happening at my house yet.  I simply don’t have the time until after my school semester is over to deal with the moving of the boxes and bins of decorations from the garage and the rearranging of furniture that is necessary to make room for the tree. And this year, keeping a young puppy from playing hide and seek under the tree will be an added holiday task.   Decorating for the holidays should be a joyful thing not a dreaded task like scrubbing toilets.  Why is it that there is a large part of the population that doesn’t understand that not everyone’s Christmas decorations have to be out on Thanksgiving weekend?

As one raised in the liturgical church, this is the season of Advent, the season of waiting.  And this time of waiting lasts until December 25th…and then Christmas BEGINS!  I heard a commercial on a radio station this morning that bragged that they were playing Christmas music 24/7 all the way until December 25th.  Why stop when Christmas has just begun?  You know that song about the 12 days of Christmas?  Those twelve days START on December 25th and last until January 6th.  We are not in the Christmas season yet.

We have become a society that doesn’t like to wait for anything.  We move from one obligation, or event, or task to the next with as little time in between as possible.  We associate “having to wait” as an inconvenience and a waste of time.  “In the time that I am waiting I could have done XYZ other things.”  I suppose that is true if your only concern is with trying to get things accomplished.

But what if you want to do things with a spirit of intentionality and joy?

This season waiting through Advent is not idle time or wasted time, at least with regard to the mind.  It is a time of preparation.  Preparation, whether it be for an upcoming trip, a business meeting, house guests, or Christmas, is important.  Intentional preparation puts one’s mind and body in the right place to meet a moment with enthusiasm, with open arms and a grateful spirit.  Lack of preparation means that we might never be in the right place to fully appreciate or experience all that an opportunity has to offer.

For those people who started preparing for Christmas back in October and were totally ready for it in November, blessings to you.  For those of us who are still preparing, why does the world not understand?  Why is holiday decorating shaming even a thing?  I will get my tree and other decorations up in another week or so.  By that time, I will be good a ready, prepared and excited.  And, I will have plenty of time to enjoy them.

And on New Years Eve, after many have packed away any evidence of Christmas, I will be celebrating the midpoint of the true Christmas season. around my Christmas tree with the halls still decked out.

May the joy of the season be yours whenever you are ready for it!

 

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/tuesday-in-texas-decorating-in-due-time/
Twitter
RSS feed

Mix It Up Monday – It’s A Cookie Kind of Month

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-its-a-cookie-kind-of-month/
Twitter
RSS feed

from Kris B.

Potato Chip Cookies

And now it’s December!  It seems crazy that we are only a few short weeks away from Christmas.  What that means to us here at Sifted Together is that it is time to test cookie recipes to see which ones Santa might like best!

I decided to start with Potato Chip Cookies for no other reason than I had some potato chips left from  topping another recipe and they needed to be used.  Since potato chips are not my chip of choice when I’m craving chips, using them in cookies seemed like a win-win.

The ingredients:

  •  vegetable shortening
  • granulated sugar
  • firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • vanilla extract
  • large egg
  • rolled oats, traditional or quick
  • King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • crushed potato chips
  • salt for sprinkling on top, optional

The sugars and shortening are creamed together and then the other ingredients are added one by one, with the oats and finally the potato chips being stirred in last.  The cookies are scooped by tablespoon onto a parchment lined baking sheet and baked at 350 for 12 minutes for chewy cookies or 14-15 minutes for crunchy cookies.

With the exception of the potato chips and maybe the rolled oats, this recipe uses only staple items.   The oats give them a nice chewy texture while the chips add a bit of crunch and a slightly salty taste.  I used baked potato chips.  The flavor and texture seemed to hold up, but it is possible that regular chips may have been a bit more crunchy because of their oil content.

Right as I had gotten all of the ingredients out to start making the cookies, a friend called and asked what I was doing.  He wanted me to meet him in an hour and a half for a concert at our local library.  I was willing as long as I could get the cookies done first.  I had no problems!  I mixed, baked, cooled, and packaged a few cookies for him in that hour and a half.  That may be the best advertisement for these cookies.  Quick and easy is an understatement!

These cookies are a hit with all here who tried them.  Since the Santa who lives at my house doesn’t like cookies with chocolate, I’m always happy to find a recipe that pleases him.  If you have some leftover potato chips, the ones that are crumbly and aren’t big enough for dip but that you don’t want to waste them, give this recipe a try!  Or, if you are looking for something a little different but not too fussy the Potato Chip Cookies are a good option.

Santa may like them too!

from Tracey G.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I didn’t really have anything in mind that I wanted to make this week, but when this recipe crossed my path I looked no further. I figured we all can always use an easy cookie recipe, and an easy chocolate chip one at that! And, this is it.

I really like the fact you melt the butter – no need to wait for it to come room temperature/soften up. But, that said, this recipe has a “let stand overnight before cutting” step – so, plan accordingly! I didn’t, unfortunately! I guess that I should’ve read the whole recipe through all the way. As far as putting them together, it reminded me of one of their (KAF’s) brownie recipes with the melting of the butter and then adding the sugar to that.

The ingredients are simple and basic:

  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Butterscotch Flavor or Vanilla-Butternut Flavor – optional
  • Espresso Powder – optional
  • Eggs
  • Baking Powder
  • Flour
  • Chocolate Chips (or combo of chips & nuts etc)

That’s it. And it came together really quickly. You first melt the butter, then stir in your brown sugar. To that you add the salt and flavoring(s), now transfer to your mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, and then the rest of the ingredients: baking powder, espresso powder and flour. Stir in chips.

Scoop the batter into your greased 9×13 pan and bake 30-32 minutes. They recommend the longer time for light/shiny pans, which I did. They’re supposed to look/be a bit “molten” yet in the center when they come out – and that’s why there’s the overnight “curing”.

When I finally got to cut and try them, I wish I’d have given them a couple more minutes in the oven, because as much as I love gooey, they just seems like they could’ve cooked a bit longer. But, I’ve a penchant sometimes for over-baking things like that and regretting it later, so I went spot-on with their time as mine looked as it was supposed to.

But no matter, they are super yummy. I did use the butterscotch flavoring because I had some, but they’d be just as yummy without it. They definitely have a “brownie-like” thing going on and it adds to the yum-factor. And, I think I cut mine a bit too large, they’re rather decadent and you can get away with a smaller serving! Oh and speaking of decadent – and they’d be yummy paired with vanilla ice cream, lol. Enjoy!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-its-a-cookie-kind-of-month/
Twitter
RSS feed

November 2018 – Where We Are

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/november-2018-where-we-are/
Twitter
RSS feed

from Tracey G.

There’s not a whole lot I love about November in Michigan, lol. It’s all about Mother Nature getting ready for her Winter Break really.

Leaves are all brown and down, and if it’s a good year they’re also already raked & processed! We usually mow ours up and use them as mulch in the flower beds and some end up back in the compost pile.

It’s also the month we see more “serious” cold temperatures – and maybe an honest-to-goodness bit of snow. Which as pretty as it can be, considering it’s usually still here in April, I’m good with it waiting awhile before it sticks! Call me crazy but I’m also very good with it if it’s not a snowy Holiday Season! By mid-to-late February you’re really getting over the novelty of it for sure…

It’s always a bit of “fun” (yep, sarcasm there) to drive in that first bit of wintery weather as well – your skills are a bit rusty, but it’s not long before you get your “snow driving legs” back, lol. Then you resign yourself to knowing, that, for the next few months you will be cleaning snow off your car (unless you can actually use your garage as it’s meant to be used – unlike us) and warming it up every morning.

And that’s what November brings here in Northern Lower Michigan – it’s definitely a transition month for Mother Nature!!!

from Kris B.

Other than in summer when it is guaranteed to be brutally hot, weather in Texas is unpredictable, especially at this time of year when the seasons are supposed to be changing.  This week, our temperatures have been in the mid to high 70s.  It has been glorious.  But, on Monday, temperatures are supposed to dip below freezing.  This kind of up and down confuses all living things – plants and humans!  

Our oak trees have dropped almost all of their leaves, creating a blanket of brown in the yard and on the patio.  The barren trees look like winter is not far off, but because of the warm temperatures, other plants have not made such preparations.  My gerbera daisies decided to bloom again.  I love seeing their bright orange faces pop up out of the brown!

Even when it does get cold, our cold and winter are nothing like what Tracey experiences.  We do have snow every now and then, but the more likely winter offender is ice…lots of it.  Texas ice storms are ugly.  Pick-up trucks sliding around on multi-level highway interchanges is scary for everyone!

This year, my city is trying something new; they are creating an outdoor ice rink.  Seriously?  With these warm temperatures, people are going to be skating in their shorts and tank tops.  And who knows what it will take to keep that rink from being a great big slushy mess!  It is supposed to open tonight.  I am curious to see how that all works.  Stay tuned for an update!

Other than that, things in Texas are probably much like life everywhere else – holiday lights, frantic shoppers, and people hoping for no ice storms to complicate their holiday preparations!

Happy almost December, everyone!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/november-2018-where-we-are/
Twitter
RSS feed

Midweek In Michigan: All I Want…

Tags

, , ,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/midweek-in-michigan-all-i-want/
Twitter
RSS feed

It appears we may be reaching the last Christmas that Harry “believes” in Santa. This was the first year he questioned if Santa was *real*.

Now as much as it’s a bittersweet sign that my baby’s growing up, it’s almost a relief! I say that because, he’s reaching the age that it’s getting hard to buy for him! “Santa’s” been working her butt off trying to come up with things to get him, and that’s because he’s really not into anything right now other than his XBox, lol. He used to have things he collected, like Disney’s Cars character cars, or the Star Wars HotWheels, so it’s always been fairly easy, but now? He never ever mentions anything that he’d like. I think he’s just actually pretty happy with things he has, which is a good thing really. Maybe (hopefully) a sign that while there are things he’d like to have, he’s cool with his current stuff.

But, I must say I’ll be rather relieved when we can ask him outright what he’d like for Christmas and not gave to go through a “middle-man” so-to-speak, lol. And not have to be stealthy in getting said presents wrapped and under the tree.

I can honestly say I never really fully appreciated just how clever my parents had to be – or how early they to had start! Where we live, there’s a few things my mom could’ve gotten locally, but I know a whole lot more would’ve been out of the Sears Wishbook! And there wasn’t the fast shipping we have now I’m sure! I’m sure my mom/parents were relieved when Santa wasn’t a thing anymore, lol!!

And now, off to Amazon to come up with something…

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/midweek-in-michigan-all-i-want/
Twitter
RSS feed

Mix It Up Monday: Big Tastes in Little Time

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-big-tastes-in-little-time/
Twitter
RSS feed

from Tracey G.

Frontier Soups Virginia Blue Ridge Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This time of year, and all through the months, I love a good cup or bowl of soup. Sometimes though, like during the week, I don’t want all the work that can go into making it from scratch. The chopping & prepping the vegetables, which I normally love doing, I don’t love during the time crunched school/work week.

So with that in mind, I’ve turned to mixes a few times and probably been disappointed the majority of those times. They’re either too “mix-like” tasting or way to salty/high in sodium. This is the 2nd mix I’ve purchased on KAF’s website by Frontier Soups that I adore! The first one I tested a couple of years ago, the South Of The Border Tortilla Soup. That mix is wonderful as well, and it’s a favorite around here.

But, back to the Virginia Blue Ridge Broccoli Cheddar Soup Mix

I was impressed to find no added salt – the amount in the mix they list at 20mg. Of course more would come from the other ingredients you add, but it’s fairly easy to control it. I used a no-salt added chicken broth, so that helped the salt content stay low and allow us to salt our own portions to taste. And I guarantee that I add much less than some mixes have in their total! Oh! I almost forgot to add that it is gluten-free, too!

All you need to provide is:

    Chicken Broth
    Heavy Cream or Half & Half
    Shredded Cheddar Cheese

So, to get it started you bring 4 cups (32 oz) chicken broth to boil and add your mix. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 30 min. (They also give you some ideas for adding in some extra broccoli, cauliflower or spinach) Then, you stir in 1 cup heavy cream or half & half, which is what I used, plus I cup 4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese. Re-cover and keep on low heat for about 10 more minutes. That’s it! It’s ready to eat or for a thicker soup, you can use an immersion blender to purée it or use a fork to mash some of the veg. I liked it just fine as it was, I was happy with the thickness and texture.

It made a great lunch and would it would be a heartier meal if you add in some bread/rolls and a salad! And, I’d say we got exactly the servings the package stayed, about 4-5, which also makes me happy!

I will be ordering more of this soup mix to keep on hand, I highly recommend you give this one a try!

from Kris B.Gingerbread Mix

I am chuckling because last year, I bought this mix and the box said, “Gingerbread Cake,” but it gave an alternative for cookies.  I made the cookies.  This year, King Arthur has changed the packaging and is says “Gingerbread Cookies ” in big letters and offers an alternative for cake.  I made the cake.  I guess I really do have trouble with being mainstream. 🙂

For me,  pumpkin and it’s requisite spices say autumn and Thanksgiving while gingerbread says winter and Christmas.  Thinking about it, this gingerbread association is a little strange because growing up my mom never made gingerbread men cookies and I never made a gingerbread house until I was a mom and my girls wanted to try it.  Now, I love spicy flavor of gingerbread in almost any way, shape, or form…cookies, cake, waffles, pancakes…even gingerbread latte!  You’d think gingerbread was something I have been enjoying my entire life.  But, it’s not.

Because the cookies I made from the King Arthur Gingerbread Cake and Cookie mix last year were so good, I decided to buy the mix again and try the cake this year.  Not that I am surprised, it is equally as good!  To the mix, you simply add an egg, water, and vegetable oil.  The batter can be mixed easily by hand.  The cake then bakes in a lightly greased 9×9 pan for 35-45 minutes.  I baked mine in a 7×11 pan, which made for slightly thicker pieces.  It took the full 45 minutes to bake.  And boy does it smell good while it is baking!  Those 45 minutes were a treat for my senses!

The cake is nice and moist; really, it needs no kind of topping, though a little whipped cream or a sprinkle of powdered sugar certainly won’t hurt!  I’m a plain and simple kind of person when it comes to cake, so this is probably all I would ever add to this delicious gingerbread cake.  But, if you are more adventurous than I am, you might try topping your gingerbread with a bit of berry compote as well.

Whether you make cake or cookies, this mix does not disappoint.  In an hour, from start to finish, you will fill your home with the smells and your belly with the tastes of the season.  This is a great mix to have on hand “just in case” you have unexpected guests or need a last-minute gift.

A side not for you photographers reading…

I styled the gingerbread and took the shots like I normally do.  I was not thrilled with what I had gotten, but most of the shots would have been acceptable.  As is often the case, it is the final shot, the one that I hadn’t taken intentionally, that ended up being my favorite.  I hope I’m not alone in over thinking the process sometimes.

May joy find you during this holiday season!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-big-tastes-in-little-time/
Twitter
RSS feed

Mix It Up Monday – Cinnamon Star Bread Revisited

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-cinnamon-star-bread-revisited/
Twitter
RSS feed

Cinnamon Star Bread

from Kris B.

King Arthur Flour truly messed up our schedule this year by doing away with their monthly Bakealong recipes.  We are limping along, filling in that gap, as best we can until next year when we start something new in its spot.  This month, we decided to revisit a Bakealong recipe from November of 2017.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember our hilarious experience with this particular recipe.  If not, you can read about it here.  Yes, we were defeated by it last year.  Surely our baking skills have improved some in the last twelve months.  We decided to try it again.  Surely we won’t have the same issues again.  Or will we?

This dough for this recipe is super easy.  Its one quirk is that it requires potato flour or instant mashed potatoes.  Other than that, it uses only basic ingredients, making it an easy go-to recipe.  The dough is easy to work with from start to finish – it comes together easily in the mixing process, it rises consistently, and it is easy to roll, which is a good thing since it requires rolling and stacking four circles.

The shaping of the star is also easy.  Leaving a 3″ circle in the middle of your 10 inch rounds, sixteen evenly spaced cuts are made.  These are then twisted together to form the eight points of the star.  By this point in the process, I was feeling pretty good.  My star bread looked good as I placed it in the oven.

And then I took it out…

And just like last year, my points were too puffy and asymmetrical.  (That is a statement you don’t want to take out of context! :-))  Just like last year, my bread was not pretty. But also just like last year, its taste is amazing!

Tracey and I made an agreement that we would only make one attempt this year and that we would photograph and post whatever we got.  So, the pictures may not be pretty, but don’t let that discourage you from trying this recipe!  You won’t be disappointed by the taste.  The guys in our households were really happy with our multiple attempts last year because that meant that they got to eat all of our failures!

I’m not done with this Cinnamon Star Bread yet!  I will figure out how to make it so that it looks as good as is tastes!

from Tracey G.

And yep. The Cinnamon Star Bread. As Kris said we decided to give it a go again this year.

I had only one issue with my dough this time, and that’s that it was sticky. But, that would be operator error because my kitchen scale was bring weird, so I measured instead of weighed and I’m pretty sure that’s what caused my technical difficulties.

Mine too looked fairly decent in shaping department – I forgot how truly easy it was to put together and shape, I had semi-high hopes on a decent looking outcome.

You can see my point ends aren’t so lovely, but this was another place my sticky dough gave me some hassles. But usually those things even out once baked.

But in the end, my Cinnamon Star Bread looked as lumpy as last year’s attempt. But, that’s quickly forgotten once you start eating it! It’s one of the easiest yummy recipes I’ve ever made! Just, don’t judge it by it looks, lol. Just make it and eat it!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-cinnamon-star-bread-revisited/
Twitter
RSS feed

Friday Faves – What Do You Want On Your Table for Thanksgiving?

Tags

, ,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/friday-faves-what-do-you-want-on-your-table-for-thanksgiving/
Twitter
RSS feed

from Kris B.

I have to start by saying that I am not a fan of Thanksgiving.  Maybe that’s a little too harsh.  I am OK with Thanksgiving as a celebration, more or less, but I don’t much care for the hoopla around the food. It always seems like an unnecessary gluttonous feast, even when we try intentionally to make it not so.  It takes forever to prepare, a blink of an eye to consume, and forever to clean up.  And, I’ve never been a fan of roasted turkey!  So coming up with a list of favorite Thanksgiving foods is kind of hard for me, but here you go!

  • “My Mom’s Fruit Salad” – Thanksgiving seems to be the holiday where families roll out all of those old family recipes like Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise (This is not a link to a recipe.  Click on it for a little entertainment. :-)) – the ones that have been on the family table for generations because everyone thinks it is someone’s favorite, but the reality is that no one really likes it but everyone was afraid to admit that.  This fruit salad is one of those always on the table, but one that I discovered is loved by my family.  The recipe is very simple: a can of sliced peaches drained, a can of pineapple tidbits with the juice, a small bag of frozen strawberries, sliced bananas, and a 3 oz. box of unprepared instant vanilla pudding.  The juice from the pineapple mixes with pudding powder for a nice “dressing.”  It’s simple, but it’s good.  I continued making this for my family.  When I got divorced, “My Mom’s Fruit Salad” was the dish that my ex-husband asked that I bring to our family gatherings.
  • Whipped Sweet Potatoes – I love sweet potatoes, but not with marshmallows!  I don’t care for marshmallows with anything, actually.  The one exception to this is the homemade pumpkin spice marshmallows that my daughter makes for me to drop into my coffee as a treat.  Anyway…I like my sweet potatoes whipped with a little butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a tiny bit of brown sugar, enough to cut the cinnamon’s tendency toward bitterness, but not so much as to make the potatoes sweet.
  • Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie – I do love pumpkin pie!  And in my family we have the battle of the pumpkin pies every year.  My daughter makes a vegan pumpkin pie and my ex-husband makes a traditional recipe.  In an effort to show no partiality, we all partake equally of the two.  I, on the other hand, make the alternative pie, chocolate chip pecan.  It is simple, but oh so good!  The filling consists of butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, chocolate chips, and pecans.  It’s all mixed together and spread in a pie shell and baked.  Yum!

If I could add a fourth thing to this list, it would be roasted brussels sprouts – Cut them in half and drizzle with olive oil and the seasonings of your choice.  Perfection!  All this to say that sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, fruit salad, and chocolate chip pecan pie would make a perfect Thanksgiving meal for me.  No need for turkey or dressing, as far as I’m concerned! 🙂

from Tracey G.

I’ll have to say I’m with Kris on the turkey thing, I don’t really care for it much myself. Never really have, but the things that come with? I’m all for! I’m a girl who’s all about the sides! I don’t have any “recipes/methods” to offer like my partner does because my things are, for the most part, pretty basic, lol.

We usually have a laid-back meal around here, I did more when my mom was alive because it was her favorite holiday – it involved food, so it was tops in her book, lol.

Sooooo, here’s my list:

  • Cranberry Sauce – I don’t really care how it’s made, it can be the jelled stuff in a can, the whole berry-sauce in a can, homemade – whatever, I love the stuff. If I have fresh around (currently 4 bags in my fridge, soon to be in freezer that are just waiting for me to create with them!) I’ll make homemade because I like to eat it with what’s next on my list…
  • Dressing – I don’t usually stuff it into anything so it’s “dressing” for me, lol. I love any kind of sage dressing that doesn’t involve meat – no sausage etc. The “sagey-er” the better as far as I’m concerned. There’s something about seasoned bread cubes cooked that I just love! I even like some dried fruit thrown in as well – as long as it’s not raisins!
  • Gravy – This 3rd item was tough because it tied with 3 others: sweet potatoes, regular mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. So, for a girl who used to build dams out of food (like carrot & celery sticks) on her plate so things wouldn’t touch (I’m still funny about that though), I do like gravy on my dressing and a bit of cranberry sauce with them both! Go figure.

Seriously – I don’t need turkey or any kind of meat, I’m good with just those things. And maybe that’s all I’ll make this year!!!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/friday-faves-what-do-you-want-on-your-table-for-thanksgiving/
Twitter
RSS feed

Tuesday in Texas – We’ll Make It

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/tuesday-in-texas-well-make-it/
Twitter
RSS feed

I was sitting at my desk at school yesterday morning and I got a text from my husband asking, “Did you know that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?!  Yes.  I did, because I have dates on my syllabus and because I am seriously looking forward to the long weekend.  If I weren’t a slave to a schedule and calendar, I’m not sure I would have realized that the holiday season is literally around the corner.

The fall has blown by.  I have been busy with a lot of travel, much more than I usually do during a school semester, but still it feels like yesterday was Labor Day and tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have no idea how I got from one to the other.  If I sit still long enough to think about it, I can list all the things that I have done between September and now and it becomes easier to see how where the time has gone.  But still, I have this feeling of being in a time warp.  This feeling excites only a slight panic in that I know I have much to do between now and the end of the year!

Fortunately, now that my family consists of only adults, preparing for and executing all of the holiday celebrations are not solely my responsibility.  In fact, except for a dish or two, I have nothing to do for Thanksgiving.  I don’t even have to clean my house because our family gathering is not happening at my house!  Woohoo!  Christmas will happen here, but I have ten days off between the end of the semester and Christmas morning.  I can get my house cleaned then. 🙂

What causes me a bit of anxiety during this time of year is that I like to make/knit many of my Christmas gifts.  I am behind this year!  Back in September, I made a list of all of the gifts that I wanted to make this year.  They are prioritized – the must-dos, the I really want-tos, and the if-I-have-enough-time-tos.  Right now, I am not even halfway through the must-dos.  I have been working on them, really I have, but apparently not diligently enough!

I believe that I will get the must-dos and at least some of the want-tos done.  I’m not sure how or when, but I have confidence that I will.  I always do.  A lot of knitting will get done next weekend when I’m not cleaning my house and I’m not cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner!  I so am looking forward to a couple of days my sweats, curled up in the recliner with my yarn and needles doing nothing but making stuff.  There is no better feeling that creating something for someone else with your own hands…well, and some sticks and string! 🙂

And, if I make the gifts myself, I don’t have to brave the shopping malls or the barrage all of online ads every time I turn my computer on.  I already have everything I need to get the things done…well, everything but enough time!

Time does move quickly.  Life moves quickly.  Reality checks that smack you in the face reveal just how quickly.  I’m hopeful that in the next few weeks that I can measure the speed by which time has passed not by things that I regret having not done, but by all the things that I have taken intentional time to do and to create.  Only time will tell how successful I will be.

How are you doing with your holiday preparations?  Have you thought about the things that are most important to you during this time of year?  Do you have a clear list of must-dos, want-tos, and if-I-have-enough-time-tos?  If you make any of your holiday gifts, I hope that you find joy in their creation. I also hope that you’ll share photos of what you make with us…after gift-giving season, of course.  We don’t want to ruin your surprises!

We’ll all make it.  We’ll all make choices.  We’ll all make time for the things that are truly important to us and to those we love.  We’ll make memories.  We will make it!

Wishing everyone a joyful and intentional holiday season.

 

 

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/tuesday-in-texas-well-make-it/
Twitter
RSS feed

Mix It Up Monday – Let Them Eat Bread!

Tags

, , ,

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-let-them-eat-bread/
Twitter
RSS feed

Pompanoosuc Porridge Bread

I have not baked much bread lately and I’ve missed it.  Not just the eating of it, but also the actually making of it.  There is something relaxing, something grounding, something so intrinsic about the making of bread.  I think this comes from handling all the individual ingredients and then helping them all come together as one thing during the kneading process.  I guess this sounds a little weird.  However, if you have ever made bread from scratch, I know you know what I mean.

This is a basic bread to which King Arthur Flour Pompanoosuc Porridge is added.

INGREDIENTS

Pompanoosuc porridge  is a hot cereal that consists of a blend of steel-cut (Irish) oats, white whole wheat bulgur, and flax.  I suspect that this bread recipe came about because someone had porridge left over after breakfast and decided to try in some bread.  I, on the other hand, purchased the porridge specifically to make the bread.  I have not tried it as a hot cereal yet, but I have plenty left to do so and winter has arrived here in Texas so it may now be time to have hot cereal for breakfast rather than yogurt!  The bread recipe uses one cup of cooked porridge.  It takes only 1/2 cup of uncooked porridge to make what is needed for the bread.

Once you have made the porridge, the bread is easy to make.  All of the ingredients are combined.  The bread is then kneaded for 3-4 minutes, let rest for 5-10 minutes, and kneaded for another 3-4 minutes.  It’s first rise takes During the first rise, the bread should double in bulk.  This usually tales 1 1/2-2 hours.  My bread rose quickly; it had doubled in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

The bread is then shaped and rises again for about an hour.  This loaf can be baked on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a bread baking bowl.  I actually baked mine in an oven-safe pot.  The bread is done when it is golden brown and the interior temperature is 190 degrees.  I may have slightly overbooked mine.  It took an extra ten minutes, beyond the indicated 45 minutes, for the exterior of the loaf to brown.  Confession time: I couldn’t find my thermometer and was too lazy to look for it, so I’m not sure what my center temperature was.  🙁

This bread has a neutral flavor so it works well for sandwiches or toast with butter and jam.  Or better yet, with apple or pumpkin butter.  It is the time of year for both of those!  This first time, I resisted the urge to add a brown sugar and cinnamon swirl to my loaf of bread, but I may be trying that very soon.  What is hot cereal without a little brown sugar and cinnamon?

If you don’t want to order the Pompanoosuc Porridge just for the baking of this bread, you can substitute your favorite cooked porridge or oatmeal.  I’ll let you know soon whether or not the Pompanoosuc Porridge is a reasonable alternative to my favorite steel-cut oatmeal!

If you are looking for a basic loaf of bread than is flexible, this one is definitely a good option.  And you get a bit of a health boost from the flax.

Happy baking!

from Tracey G.

Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls from King Arthur Flour

This is not a new recipe for me – I’ve made them quite a few times and each time I do, I’m reminded of how crazy-easy these things are! And fast!

I’m pretty sure these were found on one of those days I decided last-minute that I needed (read: wanted) a roll to go with dinner! The ingredients were simple and things I always have on hand and they were fast – which worked perfectly in a time crunch.

This recipe makes 24 rolls. They give you your choice on pans to use too – so no matter what equipment you have you can make these work. I choose to use 2 9×13″ pans.

And now is a good time to say they freeze beautifully too. I wrap them in plastic wrap in quantities of six (1/2 the pan, and I leave them “attached” together) and them put them in zip-top bags. To reheat I thaw slightly in the microwave if they’re a last minute addition to dinner, then wrap in foil and finish heating in the oven or toaster oven. I’ve even been known to just microwave them at a low-to-med power and serve from there!

The ingredients are:

    Water
    Milk
    Butter
    Sugar
    Salt
    Yeast, instant yeast preferred
    King Arthur Flour Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Since this is a “quick rise” recipe, a lot of yeast is used, about 2 1/2 tablespoons, but it really does the job! You start by mixing it, the yeast, with the water, milk, sugar & salt in your large bowl or bowl of your mixer. I do use my stand mixer for this. You mix until well blended then let stand about 6-8 minutes or until you see foam.

At this point you add about 5 cups of flour, mix until it’s rough & shaggy, then slowly add rest of flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a smooth ball begins to form. You’re directed to knead 10 minutes by hand, or 4-5 minutes in your mixer.

Turn out into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, spray the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes or until full and puffy.

Here’s where the easy keeps rolling… Once it’s risen, gently deflate it and pat into a 8×12″ rectangle. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 long strips, then divide each strip into 6 pieces. Have your pans ready, sprayed with cooking spray or parchment lined, and form each piece into a ball and place in prepared pans, 12 per if using 9×13″. This process goes really fast!

Spritz some plastic wrap with cooking spray, and let rise about 20-25 minutes or until well rounded. While rising, preheat oven to 350F. Once rolls are ready, and oven heated, bake until golden brown. Serve or store at room temp up to 3 days!

They also give you directions to freeze the unbaked rolls too!

I can’t recommend this recipe enough. You can seriously make a large batch of dinner rolls in such a short amount of time – great for freezing for future use or for a gathering! I still am amazed at just how easy these are to do!! And best part is they’re yummy plain or with butter!

Facebook
Pinterest
Google+
http://www.siftedtogether.com/mix-it-up-monday-let-them-eat-bread/
Twitter
RSS feed
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial