Monday, August 25, 2014

Peach Dumplings

Peach Dumplings
Peach Dumplings
1/4  Cup  Brown Sugar
1-2  Tablespoons  Chopped Pecans
1  Heaping Tablespoon  Flour (1-1/2 Tablespoons, but I think it's annoying to measure this awkward amount)
1  Tablespoon  Butter
Pie Crust,  enough for 2 Double-Crust Pies  (I like this recipe)
8  Firm, ripe Peaches, peeled and pits removed
3  Tablespoons  Melted Butter
Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture, for sprinkling
Maple Cream Syrup
7  Tablespoons  Heavy Whipping Cream
5  Tablespoons  Real Maple Syrup
3  Tablespoons  Light Corn Syrup
For the Peach Dumplings
Preheat oven to 400*.  Butter a 9x13 baking dish; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the Brown Sugar, Pecans, Flour, and Butter; set aside.
Roll out half of the Pie Crust into a rectangle and cut into 4 squares.  Take four Peaches, stuffing each Peach with 1 Tablespoon of the Brown Sugar-Pecan mixture and pressing the Peach firmly together again.  Lay onto a square of Pie Crust, firmly and securely wrapping the dough around the Peach.  (I found it worked well to lay the Peaches on their sides horizontally instead of vertically; this helped to prevent them from splitting open during baking.)  Place the Peaches in baking dish; repeat process with remaining Pie Crust and Peaches, using the scraps of dough for decoration.  Brush Peaches with Melted Butter and sprinkle with Cinnamon-Sugar.  Bake at 400* for about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve slightly warm to 8 very special people.  Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy for breakfast.
For the Maple Cream Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan; heat and stir until thickened and reduced by about one-third.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and thickened.  Serve over Peach Dumplings.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within they walls,
and prosperity within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions' sakes,
I will now say,
Peace be within thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good."
Psalm 122:6-9

I found that baking these vertical can cause them to fall apart...


This fellow looks like he's sticking out his tongue...

As you know, I've struggled for quite some time to make a decent Peach Pie.  You can read about my quest in The Husband-Pleasing Peach Dessert, and I've found a Home-Canned Peach Pie Filling that I really like. 
But these Peach Dumplings take the cake pie.  Everyone here couldn't stop from raving over these. 
I've adapted them from Stone Gables, where she suggests using Puff Pastry (sounds elegant, but I don't keep Puff Pastry in my fridge), and from Pioneer Woman's Peach Crisp with Maple Cream. 
This is seriously worth the effort, folks.  I know Peach Season is nearly over, but try if you can to get your hands on some late-season varieties, like Fairtime or Sweet September.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
For these delightfully simple Pink Lemonade Cupcakes you will need:
1  White Cake Mix, plus the required ingredients to mix it up--Oil, Eggs, and Water or Milk
1  8-oz. brick  Cream Cheese
1/4 of a 10.5-oz jar of Lemon Curd, which comes out to about 1/4-Cup, but use to taste
6  drops  Red Food Coloring, divided
4-5  Cups  Powdered Sugar, as needed to make a stiff frosting
1-3  teaspoons  Lemon Juice, as needed, to make a tart frosting
and if you have these on hand, you can take it to the next level:
1  Vanilla Bean, split and seeds (or 'caviar') scraped out
2  teaspoons  Vanilla Extract
Raw Sugar, for sprinkling
Remove Cream Cheese from box and set on counter, allowing it to soften while you make, bake, and cool the Cupcakes--you'll want it to be very soft.
Follow the instructions on the back of the cake mix to mix up the Cupcakes.  If you have a Vanilla Bean, stir the 'caviar' into the batter.  I like to add a very generous squirt of Vanilla Extract too, about 2 teaspoons worth.  Scoop into paper baking cups and bake according to directions on box.  You really do need to use paper baking cups for the filling process--more on that later.  Allow Cupcakes to cool completely after baking.

In a large bowl (because I'm messy) mix together the very soft Cream Cheese, 1/4-Cup  Lemon Curd, and 3 drops Red Food Coloring.  Taste and add more Lemon Curd if you need to, to achieve a soft filling, about the consistency of a brownie batter--stiff, but not too stiff (if that makes any sense at all).  Spoon this filling mixture into an icing bag fitted with a large open tip--mine is a #9, which is not as big as what is used at a lot of Cupcakeries (that is the word for a Cupcake Bakery, isn't it?), but be aware that this recipe is proportioned for this smaller size tip, which means that if you use a larger tip, you will also end up using more filling/frosting and may run out!
My English teacher would be ashamed of my run-on sentences.  Anyway, back to the recipe, folks.
Gently poke the tip of the frosting bag into the center of the cooled Cupcake, clear up to the coupler ring and gently squeeze in about a teaspoon of filling into the cupcake.  You'll see the Cupcake start to expand--don't squeeze in too much filling or the Cupcake will break apart.  This is the why-and-wherefore of the paper baking cups--they help to hold the Cupcakes together.

I like to fill the Cupcakes while they are in the muffin tins;
the sides help to keep the Cupcakes from breaking apart.
Once all of the Cupcakes have been filled, remove the filling from the pastry bag back into your mixing bowl and mix in the Powdered Sugar, Lemon Juice, and 3 remaining drops of Red Food Coloring to make a nice creamy frosting.  Transfer back to your pastry bag and frost the tops of the Cupcakes as desired--I use the same frosting tip because I'm lazy and I don't like to frost cupcakes fancy.  Sprinkle with Raw Sugar, if you have it.
Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.  Makes 24 Pink Lemonade Cupcakes.

Monday, 12 noon.  Kitchen is a disaster. Grocery store; Mom's house; cooking, cutting, and freezing Corn.  Running out of freezer space.  Rearranging freezer and fridge to fit everything in.  Hungry.  Telling Second Son to make Pancakes to use up that last 1-3/4 Cup Bisquick to get that Costco-sized box out of the fridge.  So, he's in the kitchen and Eldest Son is right there at his elbow adding his two-cents worth commentary on the frying Pancakes.  And there is Eldest Daughter, with a Cake mix, begging, (begging!) to make cupcakes right now.  Right. Now.  Right! Now!  So, to pacify, "Go ahead.  Just make them at the kitchen table and not over here in this mess."  Rooting through the fridge, trying to find something other than Pancakes to eat, giving mixing instructions while buried neck-deep in the fridge, and coming across a mostly-used jar of Lemon Curd and a lonely brick of Cream Cheese with a swiftly-approaching use-by date.  And THAT is the why-and-wherefore behind the inspiration for
Pink Lemonade Cupcakes!
And a week later, Daughter is having a friend to spend the night.  (Why is it that it takes literally all summer to just accomplish this? Why?) Together they baked these Cupcakes as a fun little project. And, yes, they used fresh Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese.  Because these were so good the ingredients should be kept on hand at all times...  
"A {girl} that hath friends must shew {herself} friendly:
and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a {sister}"
Proverbs 18:24

Much to my chagrin, this is what it looks like behind the scenes...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mental Floss and a Road Trip

Well.  Somehow I thought I'd get back here a little bit sooner.  It's been almost two months.
Seems like Summer got in the way. 
We went on a 10-day, 8-State and 2-Province Road Trip. 
And since then I have been attacked by a rampant garden.  Specifically, Zucchini and Tomatoes. 
And Life.  Life has a way of smacking you upside the head sometimes.  Especially, well, especially when I least expect it.
And School Shopping.  Let's not go there.
I keep thinking of all the things I'd like to say and now that I'm staring at the screen, I can't keep my thoughts all in order. 
I think I need some Mental Floss to clean out all the ramblings and cobwebs in my head.  So, please pardon my ramblings.  And if you're looking for a recipe, please come back on Monday.  If you aren't interested in Ramblings and Road Trip photos, you're under no obligation to keep reading.  It won't hurt my feelings at all.  {Smile}
* * * * * * * * * * * * 
I'm getting tired of Zucchini.
We have went on exactly one Family Walk After Supper this summer.
We got a new ice cream maker to replace our broken one.  We've used it twice.
One really must be properly attired before rollerblading

 We've been reading "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a family in the evening.  (That's good for when it's hot outside, isn't it?)  Little One asked me yesterday if the Tomatoes I was canning were for, "You know, like, if we have a really hard winter this year."
The boys checked a book out of the Library:  "The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Volume II."  Now they have taken over my kitchen, steaming their bows to make a traditional recurve bow.  It takes an hour each time.  And each bow must be steamed on both ends.  That's two hours.  Minimum.  They say it's a really good book.  I need to buy stock in Lowe's and Home Depot's lumberyards.
Children.  They take over your heart, your house, and your kitchen.

We were given a set of ChildCraft books.  Eldest Daughter has taken over my sewing machine to make doll clothes.  Maybe I can get her to start making my clothes.

School starts Tuesday.  I don't think I can last until then.  I'm getting in the line to buy one-way tickets to the Funny Farm.  Should I buy one for me or four for the kids?  T says to send the kids.
Here is our trip log.   
Day 1:
  • Has absolutely no pictures, as we were driving to Salt Lake City.  It's kinda hard to snap photos out the van window when you're driving 80 mph.  And there is really nothing noteworthy to take photos of: the Salt Flats look the same at mile 27 as they did at mile 17.
Day 2:
  • After leaving SLC at 7 am, we drove east on our way toward Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
  • We stopped for breakfast at Park City, noticed the Olympic Ski Jumps and drove up to check them out.  This was Highlight #1: watching ski jumpers practicing aerial acrobatics and land in a swimming pool.

  • We then headed North.  Some of the scenery was quite boring and some was quite fascinating, like this valley somewhere in Wyoming:

We got into Jackson Hole in very good time.  Our hotel room wasn't ready, so we walked around in downtown Jackson.  We ate dinner that night at The Bunnery , a fun little bakery and cafĂ©.  Definitely a good choice for a family to eat at!  After our tummies were full, we went for a short drive to the Grand Tetons and back to our hotel.
Day 3:
  • We headed north, driving through the Grand Tetons (amazing!) and then into Yellowstone.  Yellowstone is amazing!  When we were at Old Faithful a Ranger went hurrying past us and said that the Beehive Geyser was getting ready to blow, which is an irregular occurrence.  That was neat to see, as it is bigger and longer than Old Faithful.   We were able to see Old Faithful twice.  Then on to all the Hot Springs, Mud Pots, Paint Pots, Steam Vents (those are NOISY!), and the various and assorted Geysers.  At one point we were driving on a loop over soft, squishy, melted asphalt.  Two days later we learned that this portion of the park had been shut down soon after we had been through, due to a change in the geothermal activity.  Good thing we didn't know what was going on when we were there!
  •  We spent the night in Gardiner, Montana, and had supper at a great place:  Iron Horse Bar & Grill.  (Don't be put off by the name or by the looks--it's in a metal shop.  It is very family friendly.)  J had an Elk Burger, D had a Buffalo Burger, I had Buffalo meatloaf, T got the ribs, and the girls had the kid's meals.  We'd go back in a heartbeat.
Grand Tetons
I'd love to spend a week here

I'm not too great at selfies, but had to prove that I was here, too 

The Beehive Geyser

Inside Yellowstone Lodge

Old Faithful, for the second time


Lots of Elk 

And Antelope
Day 4:
  • We drove back into Yellowstone to the Lamar Valley to find some Buffalo.  Then we toured the Mammoth Hot Springs area.  We left Yellowstone about noon and headed to Missoula, MT, where we were meeting a friend for dinner.  After dinner we drove up to our hotel in Polson, MT. 
"For the benefit and
enjoyment of the people"
Gate at the North Entrance to Yellowstone

The Lamar Valley, with Buffalo in the distance

The Buffalo were shedding and actually quite ugly

Mammoth Hot Springs 

Day 5:
  • We drove around Flathead Lake (the largest fresh-water lake West of the Mississippi River) and up to Whitefish, MT.  The boys made sure we stopped at Cabela's Outpost in Kalispell.  The girls and I went to Starbucks.  Then we drove into Glacier Park and took the Going-To-The-Sun Road as far as Logan Pass.  Due to a warm spell, the road had just opened a few days before we got there--I had been anxiously watching the weather reports, praying it would be open by the time we got there. So very grateful it was open!

I am in awe of God's majesty.
These mountains proclaim His Glory in unimaginable ways! 

This gap in the mountain ridge fascinates me

At the hairpin curve in the road

I could spend two weeks here.
Our road started down by the river and is headed up the left to the Pass

I am always intrigued by the engineering it takes to make mountain roads

In the snow at Logan Pass

 Aren't these just the cutest Tour Busses?
Day 6:
  • We drove the Going-To-The-Sun Road in it's entirety, spending about an hour in road construction on the East Side of Logan Pass.  Gave us more time to enjoy the views!  Then we headed North to Alberta, Canada, and drove in to Waterton Provincal Park.  Waterton and Glacier share the USA-Canada border and make up the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park, the only Park in the world which spans two country's borders.  Also, we found out that the USA-Canada border is the world's longest undefended border. 
  • And then. Then! we had High Tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel.  This was my major highlight.  I've wanted to do this since I was here 21 years ago.  And someday, Someday! I'd love to spend a few days here.  One of my favorite spots in the world.  Not that I've traveled that much. 
  • After High Tea we drove north into Pincher Creek and took AB-3 west through the Canadian Rockies, through Crowsnest Pass and down into British Columbia.  If you ever get the opportunity, take this road.  Amazing, amazing, amazing mountains.  We were just tootling along at 8pm, and the sunlight, being so far North, was like 4pm at home.  And then near Sparwood, BC, T spotted a sign: "World's Largest Dump Truck, 5 km."  We rounded the corner and he said, "We're getting off here."  It. Was. Massive.  After that, we continued on to Cranbrook, BC, where we spent the night.  We got in about 9:30 and it was so light the kids wanted to go swimming.  They didn't get out of the pool until 10:30 pm and the sun still hadn't set yet.
 Our stuck-in-construction views

The USA-Canada border

The Prince of Wales Hotel

The back of the Hotel; we had Tea just inside the
large wall of windows on the left, looking out over the lake


Heading North into Pincher Creek;
the fields were a beautiful yellow which unfortunately
doesn't show up too great in the distance

This mountain ridge was quite unique

And here it is.
The world's largest dump truck.

Some familiar looking folks we met
Day 7:
  • Slept in and then headed South, back to the good ol' US of A and Idaho.  We got into Bonner's Ferry, meandered through Downtown (the boys found a knife shop, of course!), went to the Super 1 grocery for 25-cent ice cream cones for lunch, and then to Lowell and Kendra's for the afternoon and evening.  It was So Good to spend time with them!  J & D came home addicted to the art of Fly Tying, thanks to instruction from their boys.  We had a relaxing campfire and BBQ for supper.  Then on to Sandpoint to our last hotel of the trip.
Wild Roses were growing by the river

Hi, there!

Friends since First Grade

The girls had fun picking bouquets
Day 8:
  • Slept in again, then stopped in to see a cousin and family who had moved to the area last fall.  Then headed to Pasco to be with T's Uncle Paul's family for dinner.  After that we went to spend the night with Sid and Mary for the evening. 
Day 9:
  • Drove over to Zillah for Church, potluck, visiting with friends, Rest Home Singing, and a night with Martin & Rachel.
Little One saw this tree and wanted her picture taken
Photo Bombed

And Finally, Day 10:
  • We go up early and drove home.  Home!  No sweeter word when you've been gone.  And we had a very happy dog who was waiting for us.
"How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,
that publisheth peace;
that bringeth good tidings of good,
that publisheth salvation;
that sayeth unto Zion,
Thy God reigneth!"