Heart Shaped Hand Pies – Oh My.

Pie with sprinkles?  To be or not to be?  That is the question.  Answer: Sure.  Why not?

Funny thing happened this weekend.  My washing machine broke and I found myself with extra time on my hands.  Until now, I had no appreciation how much laundry I do on the weekends.

So I decided to make heart shaped hand pies as an experiment.  Turned out pretty well.  In life as in hand pies, sprinkles are optional, but I thought they added a festive touch.

No big secrets here.  I used a pie crust recipe from Martha Stewart, canned cherry pie filling, almond flavored glaze and of course, sprinkles.

If I had to pinpoint any upgrade, it would be the almond flavored glaze.  It added the right amount of sweetness to make this palm sized treat smile worthy.

I hope you find some inspiration.





Hear Shaped, Cherry Filling. Almond Glaze. Classic.

Hear Shaped, Cherry Filling. Almond Glaze. Classic.

Discovery – Vintage Kitchen Reproductions

Kitchenalia is my latest passion.  I recently scored a lovely French herb chopper and an antique garlic or potato masher.  Sometimes, however, the real thing is a tad expensive.  I was mining the web and found two sites that offer reproductions at a much reduced price over its antique counter part and I thought I would share them with you.

Original English butter slabs can run anywhere from $1200 to $2500.  Or you can find a reproduction English Butter Platter from Joanne Hudson for much, much less (click on the picture to go directly to the product/site):

Reproduction of an English Butter Slab.  Other styles are available.

Reproduction of an English Butter Slab. Other styles are available.


Original French wire ware cooling racks can cost upwards of $150 or so, if you can find one.  However, a reproduction of an old wire cookie rack from Donna Hay is very reasonable (click on the picture to go directly to the product/site):

Reproduction of an old French cookie rack.  It comes in two sizes.

Reproduction of an old French cookie rack. It comes in two sizes.

I get tremendous joy (and use) out of both of these items and look forward to having them a part of my renovated kitchen.

I hope you find some inspiration.



The Heart of Chocolate Ganache

If only my reality were as artful as my imagination.

Rice Crispies treats, cut in a heart shape to celebrate the day with a quick coffee infused chocolate ganache with orange zest drizzle.

In a double boiler:

1/2 c. heavy cream

8 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips

1 t. instant coffee granuals

zest of two oranges

Combine in top of double boiler until chocolate is melted, stirring regularly.

A little treat…for any day, not just heart day.

I hope you find some inspiration.



Chocolate and orange…what a great flavor pairing.

Ganache in a pastry bag, ready to pipe.

Random drizzle. Couldn’t be easier.

How can these be called scraps?

Orange slices as a hint of what is to come.


Brownies that Mrs. Patmore would approve of

I am a fan of baking.  In fact, I may like baking more than I like eating the sweet treats I make!  It is just so much fun and homey and at the end of the day, if you do it right and make something delicious…you are bringing joy to others.

The weather was a balmy 70 degrees, VERY unlike our normal weather during Winter.  So I threw  open the windows and doors, let the old screen door snap shut and decided to make the most wonderful brownies in the world: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies.  Her trick is using coffee grinds in the batter; it brings a depth of flavor to the chocolate.  Sure…that is common knowledge now, but when she first introduced this recipe, it wasn’t so common.

Fair warning, this recipe makes loads of brownies…so make sure you have a good and hungry crowd to serve them to, neighbors you can give them to or be prepared to scarf them up yourself.  No one can resist these bad boys when they are sitting in the kitchen…any effort to try is futile.

Recipe is after the pictures.

A pound of butter.

Eggs. Chocolate. Flour. Simple.

Brownies ready for the oven.

If only every piece had crusty goodness like the corner piece.

Vintage Ironstone Cake Stand and Brownies. Two of my favorite things.

Brownies. The finished product.


Outrageous Brownies


1 poundunsalted butter

1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

6 ouncesunsweetened chocolate

6 extra-large eggs

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter,1 poundof chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

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All Rights Reserved

I hope you have found some inspiration!




A Hint of the Holidays


19th century scalloped cookie cutters.


I am thinking alot about the holidays.  The decorating I want to do, the things I want to bake and the gifts I want to give.  Standing in the check out stand at the grocery store, I spied a holiday cookie magazine and decided to give one recipe a try.  My lovely neighbor, Darlene and her family are always the recipients and by extension, the judges of my experiments.  Seems to be thumbs up all the way around for these delicious and festive Cherry Almonds Half Moons.  Looks like they will find a permanent place in my recipe files. Recipe after the pictures below.

Cheers to what lies ahead.

I hope you find some inspiration.



Chilled and freshly rolled.

A dollup of cherry pie filling.

Not neat, but lovingly home made.


Folded over, sealed and ready for the oven.

Almond glaze drizzled on the warm, just out of the oven cookies and topped with sliced almonds.

Warm pastry enveloping a sweet, cherry center.

A treat for the Holidays.

Cherry Almond Half Moons

1 c. butter, softened

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 t. almond extract

2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. canned cherry pie filling or cherry preserves

2 egg whites

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1/4 t. almond extract

1 – 2 T. water or milk

1/2 c. of sliced almonds

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Beat in 1 t. of almond extract until combined.  Beat in the flour, on low, until dough comes together.  Divide dough in half.  Wrap each half in a disc shape in clear wrap and chill dough for about 1 and 1/2 hours or until dough is easy to handle. A couple of notes on the dough.  Once it is mixed, the dough is actually a little bland.  However, once it is filled with the filling, baked and add the sweetness of the glaze…it all seems to come together very well.  Secondly, if the dough is too hard once it comes out of the fridge, let it sit to soften a bit.  It needs to be somewhat pliable to roll out properly.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.  On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough at a time to 1/8 inch thick.  Using a 3 – inch scalloped-edge round cookie cutter, cut out dough.  place the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

3. Spoon 1/2 t. of filling in the center of each round.  Fold dough rounds in half, enclosing filling; press edges to seal.  Whisk egg whites until frothy; brush cookies lightly with egg wash.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are light brown.

4. In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, the remaining almond extract, and enough of the water or mil to make the icing a drizzling consistency. Sprinkle with almonds.  Let cookies stand until icing is set.  Makes 32 cookies. (recipe from Better Homes & Gardens)



Breakfast Cookies


Almonds. Nature’s Rubies. Coconut.


I came upon this recipe in my Penzey’s Spice Catalogue.  It was submitted by a reader, it sounded good so I gave it a go and have made several batches since.

I am not a nutritionist, but these cookies seem to have alot going for them.  Cranberries, toasted almonds and coconut.  And yes, there is butter that gives these cookies there wonderful moistness but I think it is the cinnamon and almond extract that really bring all these lovely components together.

The only substitution I made to this recipe is that I forego the raisins and double up on dried cranberries because I love them so much. (see previous post: Nature’s Rubies)

I find that these are great on the go, too.  I have brought them with me on all day flea market outings, when traveling via the airport (better than the million calorie banana nut muffin) and they were even good on a half day hike that I did.

They are super easy to make.  I hope you enjoy them!



Breakfast Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 t. pure almond extract

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

3 c. oats (regular or  quick cook)

1 c. raisins

1 c. dried cranberries

1 c. baking coconut

1 c. slivered almonds (toast 10 mins. at 350 degrees)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add the eggs and extracts and beat well.  Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and oats and mix.

Fold in the remaining ingredients and stir until blended. Drop by the tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 14 – 16 minutes.

The Breakfast Cookie. Something For Everyone.