Sunday, November 11, 2018

pick a pumpkin winner . . .

I PROMISE am almost sure that this will be the last post that begins with "pick a pumpkin" . . . at least for another year!! It was a nice solid run of seven. :)

I had the random number generator do my dirty work and it pulled number 36.  Congratulations to Karen of Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats!  Karen, I'll send you an email to get your particulars.  :)

So I did bake a batch of those Ginger Spice Cookies I blogged about yesterday. Oh they are SO good! 
I like the ones rolled in the chunky colored sugar best . . .
Isn't that pretty? It's perfect for both autumn and Christmas baking. And I have it on good authority from granddaughter Ellie, that it makes great 'prinkles' for popcorn.  I have it custom mixed for me by Sharon at Simply Baking Supplies on Etsy.
She's really great to work with and so pleasant! And when I emailed her today to say I'd used up all my supply and needed some more, she responded that she had saved my mix amounts and would send me out some more of the same right away.  That is customer service!

Anyway, once I'd finished baking, it was time to kick back upstairs with some handwork. And some cookies. (I mean, c'mon, right?!)
I've decided I'm going to stitch up each individual flower -- all of one color at a time -- then stitch the flowers together.  
There are a total of 45 flowers.  I finished three last night. Only 42 to go?!  Hahaha! 
This printout has served me so well at every stage of this project! You can see where I marked off the first flower. I'll X off each flower as I finish. Hopefully, by today's end, I'll have at least two or three more to go with yesterday's three.  That will make for some satisfying slow Sunday stitching. I'll be linking up to Kathy's Quilts for that!

Hey!  And don't forget to thank and hug a Veteran!  We have off on Monday in observance of the day, but today, November 11, is actually Veterans Day.  
If you've served our country in one of the armed forces, you have my gratitude.  Thank you for your service!

Have a great day -- and if you're off tomorrow, enjoy your Monday! 


Saturday, November 10, 2018

pick a pumpkin baking . . .

You'd think I'd be tired of if by now, but I'm not. Yesterday I closed my post talking about seasonal baking. I thought it might be fun to share the recipes of two of my very most favorite homemade autumn treats.  Cheesecake Brownies is the first -- a recipe that I found in Country Living magazine in 2007, and Ginger Spice Cookies -- a recipe I found compliments of Bon Appétit in 2000 (found on epicurious's site, link below) and is my absolute FAVE ginger cookie, perfect with a cup of tea.

Cheesecake Brownies (click to go to Country Living website/recipe)

1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
photo credit: Charles Schiller
¾ pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs
1½ cups dark brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons salt
2¼ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup apricot jam
1 cup pumpkin butter (you're not surprised, are you?!)

Heat oven to 325°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and lightly butter. Melt the butter and chocolate. Whisk 6 eggs, brown sugar, and 1 ½ cups granulated sugar together. Stir in 3 teaspoons vanilla, salt, melted chocolate, flour, add cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan. Beat cream cheese using a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the remaining 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and the cornstarch; beat until smooth and spread over the chocolate batter. Combine jam and pumpkin butter. Drop in spoonfuls onto cream cheese and draw swirls using a knife. Bake until center tests clean – about 40 minutes. Cool and cut. Makes 3 dozen.  (Blogger's note: it was fun to use a football cookie cutter and served these at 'tailgate parties'!!  Also -- these are SUPER rich!)

Ginger Spice Cookies
Makes about 30

2 c. flour
2 ½ t. ground ginger 
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
¾ t. salt
¾ c. chopped crystallized ginger
1 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
½ c. vegetable shortening, room temp.
¼ c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 large egg
¼ c. mild-flavored (light [unsulfured]) molasses

Combine flour and spices. Whisk to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (overnight’s fine, too).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Spoon sugar in thick layer onto small plate. Using wet hands, (damp? I *don't* do this), form dough into 1 ¼-inch balls; roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets, spacing 2” apart.  (Blogger's note:  I form the dough into 1" balls for a smaller--more tea like--cookie.  This ends up making more like 50 cookies. :)

Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 1 minute. Carefully transfer to racks and cool. Store airtight at room temp.

I'm making the ginger cookies right now - they're in the fridge. The crystallized ginger really makes these so yummy and special! Let me know if you decide to try one (or both)! I'm off for now ... Roll Tide!! ♥


Friday, November 09, 2018

pick a pumpkin outtakes . . .

Bet you didn't expect to see that in a blog post title today! But I thought it might be kinda fun.  I shared the final projects on my Pick a Pumpkin day (which included a giftaway!) . . .
But you didn't get to see the *process*. 

I shared that originally I was just going to do the valance and added the placemats on the spur. But that's not quite true.  Originally _first_ I'd thought to do a wall-hanging . . .
Designed it in EQ and everything. Not sure what changed my mind, but it was after I'd done the first two pumpkins . . .
I thought about the Five Little Pumpkins song.  Only in my head it was four. 
But wait, you might say, that's not the border you used on the final!

You'd be right.  Because I had the row of pumpkins stitched and ready to add the backing, and I decided the sashing/border fabric wasn't what I wanted. When I was looking for my batting, I opened a bag that had the gold leaf print, and I knew that would be perfect (plus I had enough to do both the valance *and* the placemats).  And it would fit in the RV's decor. And gosh, I actually thought, Oh well, let's just get on with it and be done. But I couldn't physically make myself go any further. I tried, really I did, but I just couldn't do it! So then there was this . . .
A lot of ripping. Good grief! 

But I was very pleased with the change. So then I was looking for an appropriate backing. Because this is what happens when you take on a project, flying by the seat of your pants, without a thought-out plan in place before you start working on it.  I had a piece of a fun print I'd used for some autumn mug rugs . . .
And it was the *perfect* size with a small exception. Yeah -- that tiny rectangle missing from the bottom corner.

What do you do when the perfect print falls short, literally? 
Throw a pumpkin label on it!  And they all lived happily ever after.
Almost. A quilter *was* harmed in the making of this Pick a Pumpkin project.

But I'll live to quilt another day. The Nook, however, needs some serious attention before I can go back in there and let the creative genius flow . . .
Yikes; it may be a while before I tackle anything else . . . !

And look . . . there was one more pumpkin cookbook Kindle freebie.  I know you desperately wanted one--you'll be rockin' the pumpkin recipes next season.  LOL!  This one is Pumpkin Cookbook: Seasonal Pumpkin Recipes by Martha Stone.  Pretty straightforward, non?  I just browsed through the pages really quick, so I can't do more than say it's pumpkins and and it's free! 

Q:  Why was the Jack-o-lantern afraid to cross the road?
A:  It had no guts!!

Okay...maybe I'm ready to retire pumpkins for the year.  Or maybe not?  I believe I've got some seasonal baking left to do . . . pumkin la vista, baby!