Monday, November 26, 2012

Brown Sugar and Spice Muffins

"There are two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle."

Albert Einstein

Wow, the holidays are here! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! The weather is chilly here. I don't seem to remember how cold it gets here in Western Washington. The Summer comes, and I blissfully forget of the winter before, leaving me cold and dumbstruck when it arrives again.

Mix wet ingredients with dry

We've lived here 5 years now. Maybe it takes longer than that to forget a lifetime of year round warm weather in Southern California.
Don't mix it too much, just until it's combined

This is the kind of food I like to eat when the weather is cold. Warm, simple food with yummy spices. This muffin recipe is super easy. Really. Add dry ingredients in a bowl, add wet in another bowl, and fold together gently. That's it! Which makes these muffins easy to whip up in a hurry.

Scoop batter into greased muffin tin

With the holidays upon us, and families visiting, having an easy muffin recipe with simple ingredients in your back pocket is a good thing.

Right out of the oven
These muffins will please even the most discerning guest. They are moist, and flavorful, with a sweet cinnamon sugar top. Heartwarming food that will comfort you on a cold day.

Vintage Paragon teacup (below) available in my Etsy shop, House of Lucien.

House of Lucien is having a big CYBER WEEK SALE! Take 20 % off anything and everything using coupon code, CYBERMONDAY2012. Coupon good till Friday, 11/30/2012.

Brown Sugar and Spice Muffins

These would also be tasty with some raisins, or other dried fruit, or nuts added

2 cups (300 g.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g.) brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt or sour cream
1/3 cup (78 ml.) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (59 ml) unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Topping

cinnamon sugar

ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit, 190 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 5. Spray or grease a 12 count muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and gently fold the mixture into the dry mixture. Don't mix it too much, your muffins will be tough if you do. Just mix it enough to blend it, then stop.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tins using an ice cream scoop. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a little cinnamon sugar, then top them with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes, (check after 18 minutes.) Let the muffins cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tins by running a knife along the edge to loosen, then remove and let cool on a rack, or remove them and serve them!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy No Crust Cranberry Pie

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
- Albert Schweitzer 
Whoever invented the phrase, easy as pie, was talking about this cranberry pie.  When I first saw this recipe, I thought that's probably really good (lots of good reviews) or it's just meh. Well, I'm happy to report it is the former.
Chopping the walnuts, this is the most work I had to do for this pie
It's really tasty, and it's one of the easiest things I've ever made. Seriously, chopping nuts and melting the butter was all the work I did, (if you call that work.) You really just stir it all together. You don't even have to thaw the cranberries. A cinch, this pie is.
I'm not even a huge cranberry fan, I mean they're o.k., just not exactly my favorite. But I really enjoyed this pie. So much that I ended up eating it for breakfast everyday till it was gone. (I have a sweet tooth, what can I say.)

Cranberries (frozen is fine) and walnuts go in the dry mixture to coat them before adding the wet ingredients

Of course it's not exactly a pie. Sort of like a cross between a pie and a cake and perhaps a skillet cookie. Or maybe like a cranberry clafoutis. The texture is like moist dense cake. I love the crunch that the walnuts provide. The cranberries make it tart, but the cake is sweet, but not too much so. I found if wonderfully well balanced. It's great with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Spread it in the pan, (the mixture is thick) mine is so yellow because I have my own free range chickens that produce eggs with bright orange yolks. If you use store bought eggs it will be more pale.

The original recipe calls for almond extract. I couldn't believe I looked into the pantry and didn't have any. I used vanilla. Next time I may use almonds instead of walnuts, and use that almond extract and a little vanilla extract. I happen to like the flavor of almond extract, but I know lots of people don't. If you are one of those people just stick with vanilla.

Add cranberries to the top to make it look pretty

I'll be honest some of the reviews I read said they thought this was more like a breakfast cake, maybe a coffee cake. But many desserts are good for breakfast, and I think this is one of them. In my opinion I think it's more of a dessert.

At the holidays I think it would be a great change of pace to have this along with the usual pumpkin and apple desserts. I personally make 3 desserts for Thanksgiving and I think this would be a nice, different option. It's so easy, you could make it for a wonderful fall dessert with a weeknight meal as a delightful surprise for your family.

Sprinkle on some crunchy sugar, it's not necessary, but I really loved the sweet crunch on top.

I'm hosting a giveaway for a $50.00 gift certificate at my Etsy shop, House of Lucien. Head over to Shabby Art Boutique to enter! The giveaway ends Saturday November 17th. And stick around, Kerry Anne is having "Simply Christmas" going on until December 25th.

House of Lucien is now on Facebook! At House of Lucien you'll find vintage dishes, pretty teacups and teapots, silver serving pieces and more. Shabby chic to traditional. English transferware and ironstone. I ship worldwide and offer free gift wrapping. Over at House of Lucien's Facebook, everyday I feature an item with a quote called, Today's Treasure. I'd love to see you there!


Easy No Crust Cranberry Pie

adapted from Crustless Cranberry Pie from All Recipes

If you want to do the almond variation, use sliced almonds instead of walnuts, and use 1/2 tsp. almond extract and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.


1 cup (150 g.) flour

1 cup (200 g.) sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (50 g.) chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups cranberries (135 g.) plus 1/2 cup (45 g.) for topping - frozen is fine

1/2 cup (114 g.) melted butter

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Coarse sugar - a few tablespoons for sprinkling on top of pie - optional, but a nice touch


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4. Grease or spray a 9 or 10 inch pie plate (mine was 10, if you use a 9 inch your pie will be a little taller than mine, FYI.)

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups (135 g.) of cranberries, and the chopped walnuts ( or almonds if using) and toss to coat. Stir in the melted butter, the beaten eggs and the vanilla extract (or almond and vanilla, if using.) If you are using frozen cranberries the mixture will be thick. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the 1/2 cup cranberries on top of pie, well spaced to look decorative. Sprinkle the coarse sugar on top of the pie.

Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gingerbread Loaf

 "Before you go out into the world, wash your face in the clear crystal of praise. Bury each yesterday in the fine linen and spices of thankfulness."

- Charles Spurgeon

I love ginger. Some of my favorite recipes are full of the stuff. This time of the year it's just fitting. When the weather outside is cool, ginger just warms me from the inside. It's definitely fall around here. The leaves are falling from the trees, the air is crisp, the seasons are changing.

This gingerbread loaf is one of those great recipes I turn to over and over again. It's full of delicious warm spice that gives you a big hug from the inside. Moist and full of ginger, it also gets some great flavor from the molasses and brown sugar.

Lots of ginger in this recipe, fresh and dried, the fresh ginger I grated on the microplane to get very fine. Freezing the ginger first assures the ginger gets grated finely and doesn't just turn to mush.
This recipe makes one loaf. You can easily double it to make 2, give one to a friend or freeze a loaf to remove from the freezer when you want something yummy on the fly. Quick bread such as this freezes very well. Just make sure you wrap it good. Meaning wrap it 3 times with plastic wrap then place it in a gallon size zip top plastic bag. Wrapped super awesome like that, it will last for at least 6 months.

Cinnamon, allspice and cloves gather together with the ginger to provide lots of warm spice

Thanksgiving is almost here! Can you believe it? November is the month of being thankful. My sisters are posting something they are grateful for everyday on facebook. What a nice tradition to focus on it for a whole month instead of just one day. I've started writing everyday in my gratitude journal. Something I had put aside and forgotten about. I am really grateful for having this blog to express my creativity. I am SUPER grateful for all of you readers, I really do appreciate you being here. A heartfelt thank you from me to you.

The batter
More Ginger Goodness
Ginger Molasses Skillet Cake - This cake is amazing!
Triple Ginger Cookies - These chewy cookies are spicy and full of 3 kinds of ginger.
Rhubarb Ginger Bars - These buttery bars are divine!

Speaking of House of Lucien, I'm having a November sale! Take 15 % off your entire purchase through November! Enter coupon code, NOV2012. Coupon will expire Dec. 1st.
I ship worldwide and offer free gift wrapping, for any occasion.
House of Lucien now has a Facebook Page where everyday I share a quote and highlight an item
from my shop, called Today's Treasure. I'd love to see you there!

Gingerbread Loaf

Adapted from Chow


1 1/2 cups (225 g.) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger on a microplane (peel the ginger first) (freeze the ginger first to make it easier) or very finely chopped

1/2 cup (118 ml) well-shaken buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons butter (114 g.) (1 stick), at room temperature

1 cup packed (200 g.) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (118 ml) molasses

2 large eggs, at room temperature


Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4.
 Grease a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter, dust with flour, and tap out excess.

Combine flour, dried ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside. In a separate medium bowl, stir together buttermilk, vanilla, and freshly grated ginger until combined.

Combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated.

Stop mixer and scrape bowl and paddle (mixture may look separated and curdled). Add one third flour mixture beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Easy Apple Tart

"Never lose a chance of saying a kind word."

- William Thackeray

Wow! Can you believe it's November? I've been busy. This is a crazy time for me. I've been listing items in my Etsy shop to get ready for Christmas, I always have a big crowd for Thanksgiving, and then my birthday is in December!

Mix together butter and powdered sugar

Before I started my shop, my only "job" was this blog, taking care of the house, and our (very small) farm, taking care of the dogs and my husband. Last year I had lots of time to think about my Thanksgiving menu, invite guests, figure out the table seating and everything that goes with having lots of people over for dinner. This year it will be much less "produced." I have to get used to this busier life I have now, and still figure out how to clean the house!

Then add flour and mix until the dough comes together

But you know, that's not what Thanksgiving is about anyway. It's about being thankful for what we have. Thankful to have friends over and food to enjoy. In the midst of hurricane Sandy, it's easy to be grateful for what I have. I am so sorry if the storm has affected you, my heart really goes out to you. I watch the news and have inspiration and hope when I hear the stories of nurses caring for babies with no power, and people with power opening up their homes to strangers. And then I have sadness and tears for the stories with a not so happy ending.

That's what I'm going to focus on this Thanksgiving, really being thankful. Thankful for everything that I have and being sincerely thankful for my friends and family.

Dough just coming together

Speaking of family, this apple tart recipe is close to my heart. My mother used to make this apple tart for my father. He loved it, and still does.

Press the dough out with your hands to make a free form crust

It reminds me of my mother since she's the one who first made it. (My sister told me she thinks she got it from a Sunset magazine.) It really reminds me of my dad, since he loves it. (He loves all fruit desserts, pies, tarts, cobbler etc.) And it reminds me of my sister since she makes it for her family. One of her sons, my nephew, Max, calls it one of his favorites.

Core the apples then slice them, peeled or not, your choice

 It's one of those great timeless recipes. It's easy and super delicious. Apples are the only ingredient I don't always have on hand. It's a recipe made with little effort, but delivers a big payoff.

The crust is tender, buttery and flaky, sort of like shortbread. It melts in your mouth. You can make it with a tart pan or free form. I make it free form just so I don't have to reach in the cupboard to find a pan.

Layer on the sliced apples

The topping is sweet, with brown sugar and cinnamon. The apples are tart. I use Granny Smith most of the time. You can peel the apples or not. Here I didn't. This gives it a little more texture you may or may not, like.

Apples down

This is really one of my favorite desserts of all time. It's so quick and easy to put together, it's a recipe I have in my back pocket to throw together if I have unexpected guests, since it is loved by all.


Sprinkle on a mixture of brown sugar, flour and cinnamon

This time of the year it's perfect for entertaining. Apples are in season, and it just has those great fall flavors. It's definitely a great Thanksgiving dessert.

Drizzle on the melted butter

Right out of the oven

From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy this tart as much as we do! May it nourish your family and friends and bring them as much joy as it has brought us.

Easy Apple Tart


2-3 large apples - I use Granny Smith, peeled or not

1/2 cup (one stick)(114 g.) butter, softened, salted or unsalted

1/4 cup (24 g.)  unsifted powdered sugar

1 1/4 cup (175 g.) flour

1/3 cup (74 g.) firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup (72 g.) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 Tablespoons melted butter

a few pinches of salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 6.

Start by making the pastry. Cream butter with powdered sugar until fluffy in a large bowl. (I use a hand mixer for this.) Then mix in 1 cup of the flour and a pinch of salt (still using hand mixer) to make a soft dough. When the dough comes together (it will first be crumbly) mix dough with hands until you can shape it into a ball. Using fingertips, press dough into a 9 inch tart pan, or flat on a foil, parchment paper lined or Silpat lined, cookie sheet, to make a free form tart. When I do this, I measure it to make sure it's around 9 inches, that way I know it will be the correct size and probably the correct thickness.

Core and slice the apples, (start with 2). Arrange overlapping on top of dough. If you need another apple, then slice it and add it. In a medium bowl stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup flour, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over apples. Drizzle melted butter over all. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool a bit before serving. It's best served warm. It's good plain or with vanilla ice cream.