Blood Orange Vanilla Pie

This was hands down, THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAVE EVER MADE!

Did you hear me?

Did I just say that?

Truly, the MOST delicious thing that I have ever made.

Delicious as in, plates were being scraped as each person finished off their own slice, and…..who knew? I was shocked!

So here’s how it all started….

We had a bag of oranges that I just knew that I had to put to use before they went bad.

It’s a crazy thing how this quarantined time makes you more mindful of how much we actually eat & how much we waste.

We’ve been especially mindful to make the most of everything that we eat, drink and consume & to put it all to use.

So, back to these oranges…

I did not want to see them go to waste, so I originally started looking for a recipe, either sweet or savory, that I could put this good oranges to use.

So, I came across this interesting pie recipe, that incorporated both oranges and maybe even a custard. I knew that I could bust out a pie, like that! And some of my pie recipes are baked and others that I keep on stand-by do not have to be baked at all.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “So what are those pie recipes that do not have to be baked at all, that you keep on stand-by?” I feel you, and I am going to share them, or that one base of a pie with you. I got you!

I have a basis of a no-bake pie that is good with anything, and I was testing my luck as to whether or not it could work with an orange topping.

“Orange pie?”

I have actually never made one before, but this will be one, that I will make again & again, and again.

The basis of that no-bake pie is quite simple. It’s:

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

And in this case, 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice.

Okay, so wait a minute. Did I tell you that these were blood oranges?! Umm….yes! I didn’t even know it, until I sliced them.

WAS I PAYING ATTENTION WHEN I BOUGHT SAID ORANGES?

No.

DID I NOTICE THE BIG BLOOD ORANGES SYMBOL ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE PACKAGE?

Again, another resounding, “No!” But I was pleasantly surprised to see their dark color as I cut a couple of the oranges opened to get them prepared for drying.

Yes, I was going to need several slices of already dried orange slices in order to make this pie.

This pie was going to be need to be made in steps, so I got to it!

First off, the crust.

We needed one box of vanilla wafers crushed, with one stick of melted butter, combined and pressed down into a crust, set to chill over night.

So I prepped my oranges for drying. (*Note: I used the oven dry method, which is oranges sliced placed on a baking cooling rack, which is then placed on cookie sheet and into the oven on low 200 degrees, for a total of three hours. If I ever make this again, I am going to go straight for making these slices in my dehydrator. Why, because you can essentially set it & forget it. Rather than having to come back and keep checking your oven timer/or worry that you forgot to turn your oven off…. I can’t be bothered! For future reference, I am slapping these babies in my dehydrating rack, place them where they need to, one & done and not looking back. End of story. But that’s just the orange slices part…..)

After my slices were arranged and under way to dry, I went ahead and started working on my crust.

Okay, vanilla wafers crushed up as my crust instead of graham crackers? Count me in!

I am here for it, honey!

I didn’t know how much of a difference that simple switch up would make but I was willing to try. What I was most intrigued by was the thought of what the crushed vanilla wafers with melted butter would taste like vs. what crushed graham cracker cookies with melted butter would taste like.

IT SEEMS LIKE AN EXECUTIVE DECISION WAS MADE ON SOME LEVEL…

Once again, I’m here for it.

I made up the crust & pressed it into my large tart pan, which was also different. I don’t think that I will use a tart or pie pan that is larger than 9-inches in diameter, because the depth (or lack there of) of the pie crust wasn’t right to me, but okay, the flavor was there, so I have to count my losses and I have to count my wins. Flavor-2, Depth-1. Flavor wins but I like to be shooting on all cylinders and my pie depth got a minus one. (lol!)

Making up the pie filling itself (you’ll have a printable recipe card from this, don’t worry. I just have to get through my ramblings on what made this a win and critiques, so that you can get the benefit. I want you winning. I always want you winning, mama!)

The filling was easy: with a hand mixer combine and blend until smooth one full 8 ounce stick of cream cheese with one full can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, completely blend these first before adding any other juices etc.

So here’s where I went wrong.

I was rushing & I wasn’t paying attention and I neglected to follow my own rule.

Two baking rules: #1- Always, always, always, combine your dry ingredients first before ever adding any wet or else you’ll have clumps

and

#2- Always, always, always combine your smooth ingredients first, to make sure that they’re smooth before adding any other liquids or you’ll have clumps.

I had clumps.

I wasn’t paying attention.

I threw the whole cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and the blood orange juice all in the same bowl and started blended.

As I began to mix it, I saw the clumps from the cream cheese form and my heart sank.

Now, could I just make an absolutely perfect one and post that for you?

Sure.

Are you going to learn anything from my mistakes by it, though?

No, absolutely not.

So……

Always,

always,

always fully combine your creamed items together before adding any liquid to it.

Okay?

Okay.

There, I feel better now. (Danger adverted).

Nevertheless,

The flavor was still there.

So let’s recap:

*We made our crust- one box of vanilla wafers crushed, mixed with one stick of melted butter, pressed down into the bottom and the sides of a pie or tart pan. Set in the fridge overnight. -Done.

*We made our filling- one 8 oz. stick of cream cheese, combined with one 14 oz. of sweetened condensed milk, and then 1/2 of blood orange juice combined and poured into the crust for another 6 hours. -Done

*We made up our dried orange slices, either in our dehydrating machine or in our oven on low (200 degrees) for 3 hours & set those aside. Ready to go to make our topping. -Also done.

Keep in mind that this pie is going to take you a minute.

Like, don’t promise that morning, that you’re planning to bring this pie anywhere that night because…..

IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Good things take time.

This pie is going to take time.

But when you get to that end result honey……child, listen!

Trust me.

Okay?!

Okay.

The topping is also quite delectable but it too, takes time.

You’ll need to bring 1 1/2 cups of orange juice (not blood orange juice for this recipe), 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and all of your orange slices to a boil.

Another take away note: Set aside 25-30 mins to bring this to a good thick boil and a good thick syrup of the orange juice and sugar.

Before I served it, I let it cook a rough 10 minutes and that wasn’t long enough, at all.

Allow yourself at least 30 minute to perfect it. Twenty to twenty-five minutes to boil your simple syrup (that is what your orange juice and granulated sugar is going to create -even without the orange slices) and then another 5-10minutes to let it cool). If I had my way, it would even be 45 minutes in total just for the sauce. Why? Because cool sauce, cool pie and cool orange slices, seemed to go better than hot sauce, hot orange slices and cool pie that’s coming out of the fridge. This is a no-bake pie, so you’re using that setting time in the fridge, whether it’s overnight or 4-6 hours in the fridge as your “baking” time or “setting” time.

Lastly,

get those beautiful oranges, on that pie.

Another great reason why you’d want your mixture of orange juice with sugar and orange slices to completely cool down, is so that you’ll be able to then turn it over and cover your pie with it.

It didn’t want to do that.

My simple syrup was hot and my pie was cold and I was afraid that my hot orange slices were going to melt the whole thing. Boo-who!

So, the next time that I make this thing and hopefully the very first time that YOU make this thing, you’ll do it the right way, with all of my take away notes added in!

************

Did you make this pie?

Did you love this recipe?

Did your family love this recipe?

Then I want to hear from you!

Drop me a line in the comments below or email me at thingsshemakes@gmail.com & give me a shout.

I want to know that you loved this pie just as much as I did.

Talk soon,

Chemeeka

Canning 101: The Boil Water Canner Method

My house has never been cleaner…..

As in, (of course we’re in the middle of spring cleaning season, but…) now that the schools are closed due to the quarantine, all & I mean, ALL of our common areas are cleaned multiple times per day.

It’s a good thing!

Trust me when I say that I am not complaining.

There’s a lot of good that has come out of this time & I am most definitely embracing it, as I hope that you are too!

I have long felt a calling to the old-fashioned way of living: the way that our grandparents used to. Part of this whole virus and restructuring our daily lives has brought all of that back into focus for me.

My friends know that I am their baking-girl, their home-cooking-girl, their sewing-girl, and only few know me as their canning-girl.

Why?

Because I actually used to can a LOT more than I do now, and 5-6 years ago, what I canned, also became their Christmas presents & they loved it. Some of them would even look forward to it, and ask me before hand if I could throw in an extra jar. (Sweet!)

I love canning.

I don’t think that there is anything that I love more than canning, other than sewing.

I mean, there is something very invigorating about the whole process to me.

*Sidenote: This invigorating process that I speak of, doesn’t happen often for me, because I am using really hot stuff & I lot of hot boiling water, that I usually either wait until everyone is asleep or a time when everyone won’t be in the house so that I know for sure, for that couple of hours, no one could possibly get hurt. And when they walk back into the house, I’ve got jars resting. #missionaccomplished.

Let’s Talk Equipment:

There are a couple of ways to do your canning process:

1- Is to use a boil water canner

and the other

2- Is to use a pressure cooker

I have always done the boil water canner method. I do know people that do the pressure cooker method and there are things that you can can with the pressure cooker that you can’t with the boil water canner: green beans is one of them.

Equipment list:

  • a boil water canner or pressure cooker
  • a jar lifter
  • clean, sterilized mason jars
  • brand new mason jar lids
  • clean, sterilized mason jar bands
  • a couple of pot-holders and kitchen towels (as there is going to be a lot of hot stuff)

In general, you’re going to start out with fresh fruits or vegetables.

Next, there will be a process or a recipe, to your finished product that you will need to complete BEFORE you move on to the actually canning process, itself.

For example, if you were making a strawberry jam, to be canned, (that’s different from a freezer jam that stays in the fridge. I’m talking about processing it for shelf life, right now). You would want to have a pot, separate from your canner to cook your jam in. You will need to follow a recipe. For strawberry jam, most call for:

Fresh strawberries

sugar

pectin or some sort of acid, like lemon juice.

Once your jam is done cooking, you will have your jars, bands and lids, washed, dried and hot and sterilized ready to go, because you don’t want to pour hot steaming jam or jelly going into cold mason jars. They’ll bust!

Following a recipe, you will fill the jars up to the “headspace” required for that particular recipe, before you secure the canning lids & bands before placing them into the boiling water.

Let’s talk about “Head space”.

Head space is important.

The proper head space when canning is the difference between a lid that seals properly & one that does not.

You know when you snap open that fresh jar of pickles or that new jar of spaghetti sauce & you here that “pop”?

That’s the same sound that you want to hear when someone opens one of your jars….or it wasn’t done right.

(There, there, I have to tell you the truth about the process. Or else, what good is it?)

So back to head space, you want to “hear” that pop- twice. Once when the jar seals during canning & the other when your jar, after resting a while of course has been opened.

Canning can potentially be a dangerous process, if not done right.

The author of Things She Makes and/or it’s constituents take no responsibility or liability for events that occur during your canning process.

Readers of this blog should be aware that any recipes or processes that are tried are done so at the risk of the reader/participant.

Closing Thoughts.

I have never used a pressure cooker as my canning method but have loved the times that I’ve “put up” jars with my boil water canner.

The next time that we talk, I’ll walk you through a little more of the vocab on the canning end.

I hope that you get something out of this.

Talk soon.

Homemade Bread Recipe

* This is an old recipe. I originally made this bread almost 9 years ago. I hope that you enjoy.*

So, I decided to try my hand at a little homemade bread. We like to make lots of things from scratch and I thought this would be great to add to our list.  The recipe was rather simple.  Once we mixed all of the ingredients, I punched the dough down (literally) and made three loaves out of, each into greased pans, and sprinkled a little a few whole oats for that extra little touch.

  I set these again to proof.

 And they just about doubled in size.

 Since I only had two loaf pans, I put the third loaf, into a greased shallow casserole dish.

 And then they were ready for the oven.

 After about 25-30 minutes in the oven they were all done.

 I brushed mine with just a little bit of browned butter.  *Now here’s a tip: Do not use your standard fiber kitchen basting brushes to do this, because for some reason, the little fibers from the brush come out onto your bread and get stuck, especially if you’ve got the oats on top like I do.  Use one of the silicone basting brushes.  We know for next time 😉

The instructions said to let the bread cool completely but….

 Eh…we couldn’t wait!  I tore right into one of those loaves and drizzled on a little honey.  Before I even had the first bite down I was hearing, “Oh, Mama…what is that?”

This bread was super easy to make!  And can I tell you: (1) I did not use my stand mixer and  (2) you can substitute out some of the ingredients listed for organic ingredients. 

That’s what I did with the wheat.  I wanted to see how I could alter this & still make it taste delicious!  


Here’s my recipe:
Ingredients

  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly. 
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. 
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

“Are you ready, to HOMESCHOOL?”

As I watch a handful of posts circulate with a gazillian different websites for kids to utilize while at home, I feel for the all of the moms that are going to go PLUM CRAZY when they find the downfall in sending their child from website to website for schooling or to entertain while at home.

Homeschooling is way more than that.


“Can I be honest with you for a minute?”

Homeschooling goes way beyond sitting in front of computer and going to math website, and then going to a reading website, and then hopping over and doing the virtual museum site….. You are going to get tired and burnt out and your kids are just going to be further stimulated and mentally-numbed by too many hours of screen time. Straight-up!


If I can put on my MOM-ISMS hat for a moment (a code of inner laws that I govern myself and my specific kids with), and tell you that too much screen time is not good for kids.


Heck, even your child’s doctor will tell you that.
Studies will tell you that.


Those of us that struggle with our kids when their eyes are NOT glued to a device will even tell you that.


Yet, the only option that is seemingly being offered during this time, minus a few, are… more screen-time.


So, what’s a girl to do? What’s a mom to do? I hear you, “These kids are NOT going to be driving me crazy!” Let me tell you something girlfriend. Let us stand by the kitchen sink before this all starts and let me personally tell you, if you get them set up to NEED a device, they WILL drive you crazy and they will drive each other crazy.


So……


I have a plan.


We’re going to do a BALANCE. (Remember that word for me, please).
At the heart of homeschooling is balance of all things. And that’s what you’re about to be, there at your house with your kids & possibly with the husband as well.


First, know this:


Your kids DO have things that they will need to accomplish on the computer.


Now that you’re making the transition from them being at school to them being at home, know that it does not take 7 hours for them to learn their school work.


Where they’d normally be occupied at school for that length of time, (depending on their age), they’re walking in the hallways, going to the bathrooms, putting up their bookbags, going to their lockers, lining up to go to gym, going to specials, eating lunch, getting ready to head to the car rider line or getting in the line for the bus on their bus route.


What I am trying to say is…….


If you scrap all of the filler time, they’re probably doing 1.5-2 and at most 2.5 hours of instructional learning time/schoolwork, and that’s it!
So, once your child is done on the computer: done with the reading assignment, done filling out the online math sheet or whatever it is, I DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE DRIVEN PLUM CRAZY.


In that other space of time, they should have:
EATEN THEIR BREAKFAST
GOTTEN DRESSED FOR THE DAY
EATEN THEIR AFTERNOON MEAL
CLEANED UP AFTER MEALS
HAD DOWN or CREATIVE TIME WITHOUT A DEVICE
ORGANIZED THEIR PERSONAL AREAS
HAD SOME TIME OUTDOORS
SPENT TIME PREPARING FOR THE NEXT DAY


Please be prepared for only 2 max. 2.5 hours of instructional time, unless they have a special project, and realize, there’s lots and lots of other time, spent at “school” that’s not actually schooling, that you may be wondering,
“Well, what would you be doing at school right now?”

Know that homeschooling in general is more about all around living and not just filling up with head knowledge.


That’s the big difference.


Shared in love,

God Stories: “You Shouldn’t Have” {The Flower Delivery}

So I was headed into the office this one particular day, and as I got into the elevator, this 1-800-Flowers delivery man got in too.

He was holding a small bouquet of six of the most beautiful pink roses. I mean, just beautiful. And as I asked him which floor he was going to, I turned in said, “Oh you shouldn’t have”. And he said, “Oh no, these are for Ms. Chemeeka Evans.” And I said, “I’m Chemeeka Evans”. And I looked and me in disbelief and said, “Okay, well these need to go to Suite 324A”. And I was going to sweet 324A. I was the Chemeeka Evans, that worked in Suite 324A and according to him, those were my roses!

So we get up to the 3rd floor, we both get off of the elevator, and I told him that I was Chemeeka Evans, in fact, I worked at the front desk and someone else was covered at the time, so that I could take my lunch break. I got my idea and I showed him. If those roses were for Chemeeka Evans, then those roses were for me.

I had just returned, a couple of days before from Sanibel Harbor Resort on Sanibel Island with a family that I had babysat for. I went with the family, while on their annual company trip to take care of their three kids, two boys and a girl, (ages 7-boy, 6-girl, and 4-boy) while the parents enjoyed some down time.

Their parents were so pleased with how well I took care of the kids that they just wanted to thank me.

What was even more for me than that was, what were the chances, by Almighty God, that I would be walking up into the elevator with the same person that was there to deliver the flowers for me.

The whole act of it, just warmed my heart completely.

The lesson in this: Don’t be afraid to take a chance to pull your name out of the hat as the one with the winning number. It just might be YOU!

God Stories: “We just wanted to BLESS you,” on Valentine’s Day.

I woke up that morning, on Valentine’s Day & I remember that, that particular year, it was a Wednesday. And I remember feeling; having this sensing of the Lord telling me that “He was excited for me”.

I remember that I arrived at work, around the same time as one of my co-workers. And I noticed that she was carrying in a bouquet of flowers.

I was already ahead of her and closer to the door by the time that she got out of her car, and I remember saying to her, “Oh, you shouldn’t have…” A jokester I was. But my co-worker didn’t say anything to me. She just kept on walking into the office. I went in after her, and headed to the breakroom to put my lunch away, like I always did before I started the day.

When I got back to my desk, I noticed that the bouquet of flowers was there, along with a handful of Valentine’s chocolates just scattered around. I was so confused. In my confusion, I looked up, and my co-worker (the one that was carrying the flowers) and another co-worker of ours, (both Christians) were standing there. And I said, “What is this for? Why is this stuff at my desk”. And my co-worker responded, “We just wanted to bless you.” (For as long as I live, I will never forget those words!) She continued, “We know that it’s Valentine’s Day, and we know that you don’t have anyone so we just wanted to bless YOU”. That right there, already made it one of the best days of my life.

When I got home later that day, I sat on the side of my bed with a flyer printed of a local food festival that was going to be happening that weekend, that I really wanted to go to…but I had no one to go with.

I sat on the side of my bed, with the flyer in hand and said, “Lord, I really want to go to this Italian Food Festival this weekend, but I have no one to go with.” As clear as day, I heard the voice of the Lord tell me, “Ask Don”. That’s it. “Ask Don”. Don was a guy that I worked with at church. He was single, as well and served in the church kitchen on the hospitality team, serving slices of pies on Wednesday night and bagels and donuts on Sunday morning. I knew that he’d likely be available, but regardless the Lord told me to ask him, so was going to ask him.

I got to service early that night just so I could go into the kitchen and ask him (with the flyer) about going with me before the service started. I had had it in the back of my mind, before the Lord gave me the idea to ask him to go to the festival, I had planned on asking him if we wanted to grab a Starbucks with me after service, just to say that I wasn’t technically “alone” on Valentine’s night, but this would do.

I took the flyer with me to service and went into the kitchen beforehand. Before I could even finish telling him about the festival and all of the activities that they had, he said, “Yes.”

We had the BEST time that afternoon going to the festival. We laughed, we talked. It was all company I’d say. It wasn’t a date. It wasn’t boyfriend & girlfriend. I can’t even say that we were really “friends”. I just knew that I liked being around him.

After the Italian Festival was over, he told me about another festival, “The Garlic Festival” just 30 minutes away, and asked if I wanted to go and check that one out, which I did. Long story short, it had already ended when we arrived, so we went and grabbed a Starbucks and then sat around and laughed at all of the people that looked like they were freezing cold when they went past. (Lol!)

I enjoyed being with Don. I told him before we both headed home in our separate cars, that if he ever had anywhere to go: the supermarket, the mall, even to run errands, to let me know & that I’d like to go with him.

Thirteen years later, we’re still doing that…….

As much as I enjoy being married, and I look forward to all of those sweet little holidays & I am acutely aware and remember what it feels like to be that girl, or one of the single people out of the bunch.

I know what it’s like to be waiting on God, and waiting on God, and waiting on God, to do things the “right way”, while watching others enjoying the company of the one that they love.

I also remember how good it felt to be able to walk out of the office with a beautiful bouquet in hand & Valentine’s chocolates on Valentine’s Day. And what it’s like to be the single girl, but not the forgotten girl.

Love & marriage is not about receiving, it’s about giving. Who or how can you give to others this Valentine’s Day?

DIY {Chocolate Chip} Little Bites Recipe

I love making things homemade for my family.

Baking & cooking are two things that I absolutely enjoy. And when I find a recipe on how I can make something on my own; something that I know that they’ll love, I jump right on it!

The other day, it occurred to me, that we go through a good deal of Little Bites at times. I mean, when they’re on sale, we’re like, “Stock up!” So I thought to myself, “Why not make my own recipe, my own batch & we can have different flavors, whenever they want, they’ll be here”. So with that, I took another recipe that I have & merged it with this one to create:

DIY {Chocolate Chip} Little Bites

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 buttermilk (or for a substitution use 1/3 cup whole milk and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice to make your own buttermilk for this recipe).

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, and stir until completely blended. Next add in the eggs, vanilla extract, canola oil and buttermilk and then combine until blended. With a spatula or a large wooden spoon add in the mini chocolate chips, until blended.

Generously spray your miniature muffin tins with pan spray. Using a measuring spoon, scoop levels of one tablespoon of your muffin mix into each cavity of your baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

For freezing, divide muffins by 4’s into sandwich size Ziploc bags and then store all of the bags (about 6) into one large gallon size Ziploc bag.

When I first made these, I made up a batch of 24 bites and then stored them in the freezer only taking out a bag or two at a time, or as needed. If you think that your family is going to go through them more quickly, then six little bags in a week, then you can also keep this in the refrigerator until you are done with them.

I hope that your family enjoys these DIY Little Bites as much as mine did!

Maple Pecan Pancakes

We eat pancakes at my house on a weekly basis and I would say, sometimes, on an occasion, it’s on a bi-weekly basis, like when I might throw pancakes into the mix for lunch or even one night for dinner.

We love pancakes especially on the weekends: (1) because I make them from scratch and (2) on a weekend, I don’t have to rush and make waffles, I can literally sit there & flip them one pancake at a time and turn them into on really nice stack.

Well this morning, as I was awake & aware because of the time change, aaannnnddd the fact that my kids were up early, well a little earlier than usual (said every mom & dad on this morning) in their rooms & clowning around, (plus the fact that I have been mulling over a particular maple pecan recipe #soontomake for several days now). I said, “Why don’t we make maple pecan pancakes?!”

Since I always have willing helpers, the kids took their place at the kitchen island and we got to cooking.

So, with this recipe, we substituted 1/2 cup of maple syrup for 1/2 of the full cup of milk that we usually use & added in a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

We topped off our maple pecan pancakes with a warm maple-flavored syrup & butter mix.

This goes back to a warm waffle & pancake syrup that I have been making for the past few years. There are a hundred & one variations of it, but the main part of it is flavor, flavor, flavor. *P.S. If you don’t have pure vanilla extract handy, then you had better go & get some.

The right vanilla extract means everything.

My grandmother was famous for buying all types of different, exquisite, and might I add expensive pure vanilla extracts. It made no sense to me in at the time in my teenage years but as an adult, and a self-proclaimed chef, baker, cook, whatever you want to call it. The right flavors mean everything. Don’t short change on the flavor, whether you’re baking or cooking. Tangent over.

Homemade Maple Pecan Pancakes & Syrup

Dry Ingredients

1 cup of bread flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1/2 chopped pecan pieces

Wet Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Additional vegetable oil or melted butter for cooking.

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, add and combine all of your dry ingredients until they are fully combined.

Next add in your, egg (and don’t mix yet), milk, maple syrup, vegetable oil, & vanilla extract. Once you have all of your wet ingredients added to the bowl of the dry, you can stir until fully combined.

One a large, flat, heated griddle, melt two tablespoons of oil or butter to start. Now the oil will already be in a liquid state, but you still want to have it heated before you pour the batter on to it.

Depending on how many people you’re looking to serve and the size of your pancakes, begin adding the pancake batter to your pan, sticking to the center of the pan as your cooking space. Allow to set for 4-5 mins before flipping, and then flip, and repeat the 4-5 minute set time until both the inside and the outside of your pancake are done.

You can use whipped cream & sprinkles to jazz it up too if you’d like.

Bon Appetit!

Easy Savory Morning Breakfast Quesadilla

I love a good breakfast.

Let’s be honest, I love a good brunch, actually, because like most moms, my breakfast time doesn’t come around until about the 11th hour of the morning… Hello, somebody!

For productivity’s sake, except on the weekends, I try to stay away from the heavy & sweet carbs in the mornings, because those things weigh me down like it’s nobody’s business!

If we haven’t it on hand, my morning veggie of choice is broccoli-raab. If we don’t then I’ll go for spinach. And if we don’t have that, which it’s a rare day that we don’t, then I’ll aim for broccoli. Some kind of dark and green, leafy or not leafy veggie to pair with onion or some fresh garlic will usually do. However, today, I had an appetite & I mean a BIG appetite. I knew that I was going to need more than just something quick, but I didn’t want it to make me sluggish and impact my productivity for the day. So I thought, “Why not make a quesadilla?!”

Way back when a couple of my co-workers and I used to love to cook. I mean, we all liked cooking. If there was one thing that we all liked to do in our spare time, it was to cook. It was a fairly small staff of maybe 20 people including the people that worked in the warehouse & the janitorial staff, and whoever didn’t like to cook, liked to eat. It was a win-win situation! About once every other month or so, we’d have a cooking day on our downtime. No one would go out for lunch that day, and we’d plan who would bring what. I’ll never forget that one of the workers was from Chile & his wife owned a bakery and he’d bring in this giant Chilean cake with thin layers of cake, interlayered in with yummy peaches and cream. I don’t know what it was called, but it was so good. I didn’t want him to sign up to bring anything else, except that. It was that good!

One particular time, I brought in everything that I needed to make chicken or veggie quesadillas. They were so good & so versatile. If you didn’t want chicken, then you didn’t have to have chicken. If you were going the veggie route, (if I remember correctly, one of my co-workers was a vegetarian) then you could have just a portabella-centered quesadilla with all of the other sauteed vegetables and it was just as good.

This morning felt like one of those days at my old-workplace. Even though it was breakfast time, I felt like a “hearty” “healthy”, “I-don’t-need-alot-but-I-don’t-want-to-be hungry-when-I’m-done-eating-either” type of a morning.  So this is what I came up with:

Easy Savory Morning Breakfast Quesadilla

Serves: 1 (but can be doubled.  Recipe by Things She Makes)

November 1, 2019 

Ingredients

1/2 large yellow onion, sliced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cups of spinach leaves, chopped

1/2 of jarred roasted red peppers, sliced

1/3 baked chicken breast, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shredded swiss cheese

1 large flour tortilla

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes until the pan and the oil are warm.

(Using a wooden spoon for everything)

Add sliced yellow onion and sauteed until light brown and clear.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same pan, add a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, add a tablespoon of minced garlic and saute for two minutes & then add spinach leaves.  Saute until spinach begins to wilt (about 2 mins) and then remove from pan & set aside.

With your sauteed onions, minced garlic and spinach set aside, add one more 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, allow it to spread and then add the flour tortilla. 

Wait 90 seconds (to allow it to warm up, but not burn) and sprinkle on shredded swiss cheese.  Next, add jarred roasted red pepper slices and the spinach, and minced garlic mixture.  Randomly place the sliced of baked chicken breast (leftover chicken is perfect for this), on top of the quesadilla. 

Allow it to sit in the pan, on medium heat, unfolded for another two minutes and then fold.

Breakfast is SERVED!

There you have it:  A simple, delicious, good for breakfast or good for lunch (if you’re catching breakfast a little late), start to your morning!

 

 

Five Delicious Things That You Can Make with Pumpkins {Besides Pumpkin Pie}

There are so many delicious things that you can make with fresh pumpkins that you might be bringing home from the store or the pumpkin patch, that you will almost want to try them all!

I don’t want this whole fall season to go past without expanding your mind to the endless possibilities of this interesting & delicate squash. Squash, yes that’s right, a pumpkin is actually no more than that. A pumpkin is a squash. While being made into a pumpkin pie is the most common use of it, there are lots of other delicious treats that both you and your family can enjoy, if you give them a try.

1. Roasted Pumpkin Spinach & Feta Salad

Source: Recipe Tin Eats

Check out this delicious Make-Ahead Roasted Pumpkin Spinach & Feta Salad by Recipe Tin Eats. It’s called make-ahead because you have to roast your pumpkin bites before adding them to the rest of the fresh ingredients in your salad.

Roasting fresh pumpkin in easy. You simply:

  • Clean the outside of your pumpkin
  • It is your preference whether or not you choose to remove the skin
  • Cut the pumpkin in half or initially into 4 large quarters
  • Remove the seeds and all of the stringy flesh with a large metal spoon
  • Unless you’re planning on consuming the seeds, you can dispose of all of the seeds and all of the inside stringy flesh
  • Cut into smaller 2-inch chunks
  • Place face down on a lightly greased baking sheet
  • Lightly season with sea salt & pepper
  • Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until tender

For this recipe, you’ll want to set your roasted pumpkin bites aside to cool before for adding to your salad, or else you will cause the spinach leaves to wilt.

2. Homemade Pumpkin Butter

Source: Bandingan.com

Looking for another delicious alternative for breakfasts in the fall (besides my Homemade Pumpkin Spice Pancakes Recipe), then try this Quick & Easy Pumpkin Butter Recipe by Bandigan. You can use one medium (up to 4 pounds) fresh pumpkin. You will want to remove the skin, pulp & seeds before you add this to the slow cooker with seasonings.

Pumpkin butter is delicious on toast, biscuits and even pancakes on a cold fall morning. I like to add a spoon or two to my homemade vanilla ice cream base mix to make a pumpkin spice flavored ice cream.

Once you get into the habit of bringing your pumpkin home, cutting it in half and baking it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, making up batches of homemade pumpkin butter is something that you can grow to love. It even makes a great gift to share with friends & neighbors. Should you choose to can your butter to preserve it, it will last even longer.

3. Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Source: The Kitchn

I can remember being a kid in kindergarten, and it being fall and my kindergarden teachers roasting pumpkin seeds in the oven that we had in our classroom, and serving it to all of the little kids.

The were delicious, roasted and had a delicate taste.

They were dark green and they were crunchy.

We had to take the shells off of the pumpkin seeds in order to eat delicious seeds that were on the inside.

Not only were they a treat to eat, but I will never forget the process of them carving out the inside of the pumpkin because we were going to be making our very own roasted pumpkin seeds!

4. Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Source: All Recipes

Now you can also make these cookies with either fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin.

If making with fresh pumpkin then you definitely want to make sure that you’ve clean, cut and baked your pumpkin the day before. After you have removed the seeds and the pulp, you will bake your pumpkin and allow it to cool completely and then you can proceed with your recipe.

I have often (mainly with canned pumpkin but you can do the same with the same quantity of fresh pumpkin), cooked with pumpkin down in a little sauce pan before I’ve added it into my butter and spices etc. I don’t know that you have to cook down the canned pumpkin, since in a way, it has already been processed, but I like to.

5. Pumpkin Dump Cake

Source: Dinner at the Zoo

I am not a fan of recipes that include the word, “dump” anything, but this Pumpkin Dump Cake Recipe by Sara from Dinner at the Zoo, has made a believer out of me!

Sara uses pumpkin pie filling to make this cake but you could also do the same if with fresh, pre-baked pumpkin. I would choose to go with a pumpkin pie pumpkin or a sugar pie pumpkin, like the one that we talked about in this post. All in all, hopefully we have explored a few different options of delicious things that you can make with the abundance of pumpkins that you’ll be seeing this fall. Remember, if you’re going to make a pie from a fresh pumpkin then you’ll want to go with a “sugar pie” pumpkin. If not, if you do not plan on carving every pumpkin that shows up on your front porch, you might want to try some of the recipes in this post.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to try something delicious!

Sincerely,

Things She Makes