Monday, March 2, 2015

Almond Apricot Shortbread

Well, this a yummy thing to make.....and not too difficult....Almond Apricot Shortbread

Tonight is our quilt guild meeting and I needed something kind of special, so I had this idea and decided to give it a whirl. I figured, if it didn't work, I could always make a spice cake (my default setting)!

But it worked, so I'm sharing it with you.

It's basically, shortbread and apricot jam or preserves....

Here's the recipe:

Almond Apricot Shortbread

For the Shortbread and Topping:

3 3/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 c. Sugar
1 1/2 c. Butter
1 t. Almond Extract

Sift Flour and Sugar together into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle evenly with Almond Extract and stir with a fork. Cut butter into small squares and add the flour mixture, tossing to cover each piece. Work with fingers all through the mixture until is looks like fairly small bread crumbs and will stick together when squeezed. Remove 1/3 of the mixture to a small, separate bowl to make the topping and add (to the small bowl):

1/2 c. Rolled Oats

Work the Oats in well and set aside.

You will need a 16 oz. jar of Apricot Jam or Preserves

Or, you can make your own:

2 c. Dried Apricots, cut in eighths
Water to cover
1 t. Almond Extract
1/2 c. Sugar
2 t. Corn Starch, dissolved in 1/4 c. Water

Place all ingredients, EXCEPT the Corn Starch mixture, in a 2 quart saucepan and cook and stir on the stove (medium heat) until fruit is completely rehydrated and soft, with just a bit of "tooth" to it. 

I cooked mine in the microwave in 2 minute increments. In either case, ADD WATER AS NEEDED to keep it moist. There should be a little water in the bottom of the pan after cooking. When the fruit reaches the desired consistency, add the Corn Starch mixture. Cook another minute or two to take away the raw taste and set aside.

Place 12 paper liners in a muffin tin and add a heaping tablespoon of shortbread into each cup. Press the dough in firmly. Use all of it. Spoon the apricot mixture in using the tablespoon and spread evenly. Use all of it.

Spoon the topping over all, using all of it, and pressing it down gently.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the tins, then remove and serve.

Seems like a nice dessert for an Easter tea......

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Rare Sight and a Good Recipe

On a clear day, you can 230 miles! Yup, for the first time in nine years of traveling up this highway to go to church, we looked out to the west this morning, and there, on the horizon....clearly visible to the naked eye....

....about 230 miles away, was the top of Mt. Rainier!

After living under a layer of fog since mid- January, it's amazing what shows up after a good rain! Sorry the picture doesn't do it justice. My smart phone is not my usual first choice for a sight like this. Check out the link for Rainier and read all about it.

Here is a snap from the U.S. Geological Service.

This one is shot from the Puyallup Valley which grows more tulips than, well, anywhere else you can imagine.

Anyway, we always know the Cascades are over there to the west of us. We can often see the Stuart Range on our way over to Ephrata, and I've assumed for years that Rainier might be visible....but not until today, did we see it. What fun!

Okay, enough of that. Ever need a lot of cookies quick? I know. When you do, you can just run over to the store and get some pre-mixed cookies and, Bob's your've got a lot of cookies. I guess I could do that, too. I just didn't want to.

These "Less Sugar Oatmeal Chunkies" are based on a "Highland Oatmeal Cookie" recipe from an old cookbook (American Home All-Purpose Cookbook edited by Virginia T. Habeeb, 1966). I tripled it to make enough cookies for the "Quilter's Tea" we are having tomorrow here in Odessa. 

I make these up as a sugar-free addition to the stock of cookies we're going to have on hand from the members of the guild. What doesn't get consumed tomorrow, can go into the freezer for later treats.

"Highland Oatmeal Cookies"

1 c. sifted AP Flour
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1 c. Butter, softened
1 c. Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. White Sugar
1 Egg
2 t. Vanilla
1/4 c. Water
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. Raisins
3 c. Rolled Oats

Cream the butter, sugars, vanilla and egg well until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and stir until mixed. Drop by rounded teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool slightly before removing from pan to cooling racks.

"Less Sugar Oatmeal Chunkies"

Replace the Brown Sugar with 1/2 c. Brown Sugar "Splenda"
Replace the White Sugar with  1/4 c. "Truvia for Baking"

If doubling or tripling the recipe, you'll need a bigger bowl and will need to mix in the dry ingredients by hand. Place the dough in a ziplock bag and roll into a log form. Keep refrigerated or frozen if you don't want to bake them all at once. When ready to bake, cut open the bag(s) and, using a heavy chef's knife, cut the log into 3/4" wafers. Cut each wafer into four equal chunks, spread out on the cookie  sheets and bake about 17 minutes until lightly browned.

You've got cookies! And having less sugar, these can make a very nice "pocket breakfast" when you don't have time to stop and eat. Just grab your latte and you're all set!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Creative Process

My friend Joan, over at Moose Stash Quilting, gave me this lovely portfolio for Christmas.

Isn't it lovely? See the little Sunbonnet Sue on the front? She's holding a precious little pink heart button which means Joan still loves me after all we've been through together!

How did she know I love certain bugs (only CERTAIN ones, mind you) like dragon flies and butterflies? 

 Inside, it has a zipper pocket for pencils and things with a black patch pocket for a card or two.....

....opposite, there's a pocket where you can slide in a large sketch pad! Oooooo......... was too blank and too white and so I had to make marks on it right away. These weren't the first marks, though. Earlier, I drew ten little birdies which you will see later. But now, I'm drawing some new Sues and Sams for small wall pieces. This one is Sue with her baby.....

Wall hanging and quilt patterns around here always begin on paper.....they get sketched in pencil...

and tried out in various venues. This one has a 2" border around it. Then they are traced, inked and scanned and they become, then, electronic images...... these in my graphics program (JASC). Here, you see Sue and Sam.......bare line drawings and colored line drawings. I can capture fabrics from online and JASC will "pour" them into the white spaces in the drawings to color them.

I can also take elements from other projects and add them to a drawing. From the file for "Harvest Kitty" pattern, I borrowed a pumpkin to put in Sue's hands, below. Previously, she was holding a roast turkey. I thought that might be rather macabre, next to Sam holding the live, she has a pumpkin. 

 Here, you can see them larger with the fabrics in place and the original bare line drawings.

Then, I layed the piece out in Electric Quilt 7 as a 7 1/2" x 12" Candle Mat. Here are the EQ7 instructions for cutting the block. I imported the picture of Sam and Sue, placed them next to a 6 1/2 square Maple Leaf Block and......there it is...... 

....a clear picture of how the Candle Mat might look when it is finished.

Once these images are made, I can use them as I build my pattern instructions in Word. Next, I make a cloth sample of the Candle Mat. It's in the making of the sample, that more changes occur in the pattern. Most of my patterns sail right through that portion fairly well; once in a while, one doesn't work out. But, c'est la vie! That's life. Not every sketch gets to grow up and be a full-fledged quilt!  

But most do. Stay tuned for more about the Creative Process. Are you designing your own quilt pieces? How are you doing it?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Minced Meat Tartlets and Turnovers

I've wanted all through the holidays to make this recipe but never found the time. But last week, a window opened and Voila! Minced meat. I'll show you the recipe below but here are two things you can make with minced meat: tartlets and turnovers.....

Aren't they lovely? The tartlets are baked in a muffin tin (12 cup). The turnovers are made from the same rounds that line the muffin tins, but, just folded over and pressed all around the curve. But here's the proceedure for making the minced meat.

In the largest non-reactive bowl you have, mix the raisins, currents, spices and nuts very well together. Let stand while you prepare the fruit.

You can use any kind of apples and oranges and lemons you like. This is what I had on hand and it made a little more than the recipe says.....about 4 quarts. The recipe will make about 3 quarts. It's very forgiving if you vary the ingredients a little. I go by taste. If I like it, it'll make a good pie or tart.

I ran the apples through the peeler.

I had a mixing bowl full.

And lots of scraps for my neighbor's horses. Yum.

I ran all through a grinder: oranges, lemons, apples.....then, added the spiced mixture and mixed it well.

I covered it close with Press 'n' Seal.....

And added extra protection on top to discourage tasters and felines.

Let it stand overnight like that. Then, dot with butter and bake at 300 degrees F., covered with foil,  until the butter is melted and all is steamy and hot.

I let it cool and then packed it in quart yogurt containers to freeze. I haven't tried canning this. You'd want to thoroughly cook it, first, and I've thought that would be a little too much cooking.

Yesterday, I took a quart of it out and put it in the fridge to thaw. Today, I made the tartlets and turnovers. They are good. Here's the recipe for the Minced Meat, itself.....

Mix together and set aside:

12 oz. Raisins
8 oz. Dried Currents
4 oz. Ground Almonds or Pecans
1/2 c. Candied Orange peel or Orange Marmalade
2 c. Brown Sugar
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
2 t. Ground Allspice
1/2 t. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 t. Ground Ginger
1/2 t. Ground Cloves

Grind together:

2 pounds, or 10 to 14 Small Cooking  Apples, cored & peeled
 3 Whole Oranges, seeds, stems, navels removed
 1 Whole Lemon, seeds, stems, navels removed

Grind separately:

8 oz. of Suet (you can use 1/2 c. butter instead, which you don't have to grind and you add at the very end, the following day)

Mix the spiced blend and the ground fruit together well in a large non-reactive bowl. Add and mix in well:

7 T. Brandy or Apple Cider

Cover closely and let stand at room temperature overnight. The next day, uncover and dot with 8 oz. of ground Suet or 1/2 c. Butter. Mix in well, cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees F. until hot, steamy and the suet or butter is melted (about 3 hours). Mix well, again, and let cool. Pack in quart jars and freeze for up to 6 months (I, actually, have kept it longer and it was still very good).


To Make Minced Meat Tartlets....

Open 3 packages of rolled dough and let set until pliable or make dough for three crusts (1  2-crust pie and 1  1-crust pie). Using a 4" round, cut out 12 circles. Using a 1 1/2" round, cut out another 12 circles. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or add paper liners to each cup. Fit a 4" round of crust into each cup and fill to the top of the crust with minced meat. Pierce the 1 1//2" rounds with a fork and press onto the top of each tartlet. There will be a little space around the edge which is okay. They have to breathe and expand. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in a 425 degree F. oven for 20 minutes.

Note: If you didn't use paper liners, run a knife around the sides of each cup to loosen. Let stand until the pan is cool to the touch and cover it with a piece of foil and a metal rack that fits the muffin tin. Flip and gently remove the pan. Invert each tartlet. Some will break a little, but they hold together fairly well until served.

For the Turnovers.....

Using the rest of the dough, make 5 or 6 turnovers by putting a teaspoon of Minced Meat on each round, folding it over, moistening the edge and sealing it by pressing a fork all around the curved edge. Some juices will ooze out but just press the edges together with your fingers as you place them on a pice of parchment on a cooking sheet. Pierce the top with the fork a couple of times, too, to ventilate. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake these about 13 minutes in a 425 degree F. Oven.

With the scraps that are too small to do anything with, you can sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and bake a few minutes on cookie sheets; or, mash them all together and make another turnover....a big one. It'll be rustic, but delicious.....or make more little ones. The dough will be a little tougher but it'll work.

Right down to the very last crumb!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Little Magnet Fun!

Magnets, magnets, magnets. One's fridge CAN look like one big billboard. Honestly. Why should it? A few years ago, I made color prints of a lot of my quilt designs, glued them to those magnets, cut them to size, and slapped them onto the fridge.

Today, I was looking for a little gift I could make for a friend and thought about those pesky magnets. They are given away by merchants, attached to phone books and appear in the mail. I've been storing them up on my filing cabinet in my studio. I thought, maybe I could make a Christmas Sunbonnet Sue magnet for a gift. I took my "Angel Sue" design, shrunk it and printed it out. I traced it onto one of those magnets.

Then, I painted it with three coats of white acrylic craft paint.

I used a big darning needle to hold onto it while I brushed the paint on.

Then, I flipped the design and traced another one onto the remaining magnet space.

And painted it.

I cut out a heart to go in between the Sues, and colored it with a red Sharpie.

I outlined the Sue piece in preparation for coloring.

And began to put the color on.

Look! Almost done.

I wrote "Merry Christmas" in the heart and taped the magnets to a cardboard backing wrapped in clear plastic......added a ribbon and a label and......all done!

That was fun!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dust Muffin (Katrina) and the Tissue Box Tunnel

Bodecia says:  Oh no! Who gave Katrina that tissue box?

Too late. She's already interested.

Something in here?

Is it good for teething?

Maybe it should be flat. No, that's too boring.

I think it's a tunnel....

Definitely dark in here. I think I see the light, though.....

It's quite a show, isn't it? She'll never get out of it!

This is hard work!

Not making much progress.....

It's actually rather nice in here......

Snugly and warm......

Oh, there's an open window!

Onward and outward.....

Yes, this end tastes just like the other end......


Very nice....

She looks like a Purrito!

Okay, now what?

How do you like the pattern?

I think it's ME!

And this view? (Have you ever seen such a long fluffy tail?)

Okay, I'm outta here!





 Wow, that was exhausting!

Time for some serious Z's.

One should not sleep in one position all the time.....

it's best to switch several times during a nap....

Okay. No more shows until the matinee.......