At the first hint of chill in the air, my thoughts turn to Christmas. My mind and heart begin to fill with visions of sugar plums indeed. My weekly menu turns decidedly toward comfort food and I begin rummaging in my brain for homemade Christmas gift ideas for my loved ones. I begin hauling out first the autumn decorations and later the Christmas, decking my halls and every other available surface. I take delight in the season, the magic, wonder and glory of it all. This blog was born from that delight. Here you will find dinner ideas, crafts, decor, stories, memories, and music. Some ideas will be entirely mine, but I will also include anything cute I come across that I think you might like to see, credit given to the creator or source. Please leave me your ideas in the comments and any other feedback you'd like to give.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Gorgeous Wreath

This may be my favorite Christmas project I've found in blogland this year, this yarn wreath from Recaptured Charm. So that means, if I craft nothing else, I need to do this, right?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Caramel Apples

Yes, it's another recipe. Saturday we purchased half a peck of apples at the farm market so I could try out this recipe I found at 101Cookbooks(dot)com. It was lots of fun to stand in the warm, fragrant steam stirring this caramel to thickening. It thickened up nicely, but by the next morning the caramel was puddled beneath the apples. It just slipped right off. I really didn't think it would happen when I saw how nicely it firmed up Saturday night. So I guess my recommendation is, eat them immediately.

Our only complaint was that the honey I used in the recipe has a funny taste to it. I bought the honey at a farmer's market this summer and none of us have cared much for the flavor. It's kind of a heavy, musky taste. I thought it might be OK cooked into caramel, but it's pretty strong. I'm anxious to try the recipe with a honey we like.

So here it is:

6-8 small apples, unwaxed
1 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 C honey.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Push a stick into each apple. Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.

In a medium thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan- just before a simmer. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly for about 15-20 minutes or until the mixture reaches 255-260' F. To stop the caramel from cooking, very very carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of ice water. Stir until the caramel starts to thicken up. (Thin enough to coat apples, thick enough not to run off.) If the caramel thickens too much, simply put the pot back on the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit. Dip apples, place on parchment. Add sprinkles while still warm and sticky.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Holiday Season 2010 (Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls)

(Do I have your attention!?)
Well, I know it's time to get back to it over here at Gingerbread and Candy Canes when I have my first cup of hot cocoa. I had a cup of cocoa this morning alongside a delicious pumpkin cinnamon roll.

I thought this would be the perfect thing to share with you to kick off the season. This is something you can make now and then you can make it over and over throughout the holidays. When I saw the recipe a couple days ago at Good Life Eats, I knew I had to try it right away. I have TONS of pumpkin puree in my freezer from last year and now that it is pumpkin season again I figure I better start using it up before I have more to add to it.

These rolls are rich, gooey, and spicy.

Think cinnabon, but in pumpkin. SOoo good. I'm going to copy and paste the recipe here, but you should still go to the site and check out the pumpkin pie oatmeal recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but I fully intend to.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
roll dough adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes approximately 15-16 rolls

Roll Dough:
1/4 cup warm water (not hot, about 110 degrees)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups (approximately) All-Purpose Flour
1 1 /4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 stick butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Let rest for 5 minutes before stirring. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, butter, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour, a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl, set aside. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 slices. In order to cut down on drag, it helps to rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices. Place slices in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan (or in two 8 or 9 inch round cake or pie pans). Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20-30 minutes.

While rolls bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice to a small food processor. Blend until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed and desired consistency is reached. (I used 2 cups powdered sugar)

Frost warm rolls with the cream cheese frosting and serve immediately.

For night before prep: Prepare the rolls up to the point where you roll and place in the pan. Then, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and proceed with the instructions where you left off. Rising time may be slightly longer than noted in the recipe due to the dough being cold vs room temp.