Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Multigrain Pumpkin Pancakes

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: --
Supplies/Ingredients:

  • 1 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1/4 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick oats)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 c. plain, greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (or mashed bananas, or applesauce)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3 eggs
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Griddle pan

In case you have extra pumpkin puree that needs to be used or need to indulge just a little bit more this Thanksgiving weekend, here is a great pumpkin pancake recipe! My pancake recipe has morphed over time. I tweak a couple ingredients here and there to make banana chocolate chip pancakes as well. I hope you enjoy these hearty, multigrain pancakes! 

Step 1

Mix together the dry ingredients (flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices) in a large bowl.

Step 2

In another bowl, whisk: yogurt, milk, pumpkin puree, honey, and eggs.



Step 3

Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently whisk together until just combined (don't over mix).



Step 4

Using a measuring cup, ladle approximately 1/4 c. of the batter onto a hot griddle. These pancakes are thicker and more cake-like than most pancake batter, so they may need to cook longer than you are accustomed to. Also, the batter doesn't generally bubble on top as most pancakes do to indicate they are ready to flip. Flip the pancakes once the underside has thoroughly browned (2-3 minutes) and cook for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. 

Serve warm with maple syrup

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Recipe: 

1 c. whole-wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick oats)
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 c. plain, greek yogurt
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree (or mashed bananas, or applesauce)
1/4 c. honey
3 eggs
  1. Mix dry ingredients (flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices) in a large bowl. 
  2. In another bowl, whisk: yogurt, milk, pumpkin puree, honey, and eggs. 
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently whisk together until just combined (don't over mix). 
  4. Ladle approximately 1/4 c. of the batter onto a hot griddle. Flip the pancakes once the underside has thoroughly browned (2-3 minutes) and cook for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Advent Season 2015

The Christmas season is upon us! Last year, I posted an Advent series which included some ways you can celebrate the Christmas season on a daily basis. Here is my Advent: Introduction post from last year; I've updated the dates to reflect this year. I'll post the daily Advent readings on Flashback Fridays for the Advent season. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family did last year! 


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Wreath
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)

The Christmas season approaches, and I reflect on, "why do we celebrate this holiday?" As a Christian, even I get caught up in the decorations, Christmas cookies, and gift exchanges; oftentimes forgetting about the celebration of Jesus's birth. I have two small children, and this year my oldest is starting to comprehend the world around him. So, I want to be intentional about sharing the Christmas story with my children. Undoubtedly, this will help me refocus and recenter on Christ in the midst of the parties, shopping, and delicious food. So, over the next four weeks, I will share with you some ways you can remember and celebrate Jesus this Christmas season! 

What is Advent? 

Growing up in church, I heard about "Advent", but it didn't consist of much more than lighting a candle on a wreath each week during the church service. So, what is Advent?

Advent means "coming", and in context of the Christmas season, it refers to the coming of Jesus. 

Why do we celebrate Advent? 

We not only remember Jesus's coming to earth as a baby over 2000 years ago, but we celebrate the anticipation of his return!

God sent Jesus to this world because of His love for us. When God created man and woman, He designed us to be in a relationship with Him. However, sin entered the picture (and "sin" just means anytime you miss the mark, or aren't absolutely perfect). Since God is holy, perfect, and pure, sin cannot be in His presence. But God wants us to be with Him, so He knew there MUST be a way! Enter Jesus. Jesus came to earth as a man -- a baby, and lived a spotless, perfect life and died a sacrificial death for me...for you...so that we can be with God. So, if you simply believe Jesus is who He said He is (Lord and Savior) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you can spend all of eternity in the presence of our loving Father that so desperately wants to be with you (Romans 10:9). So, when we stand before God, He does not see my shortcomings or mistakes; rather, He sees the perfection of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).

So, we celebrate Advent to remember Jesus's coming as a baby but also the promise of His return (Acts 1:6-11)! It is because of God's love for us that Jesus came, and that is why we celebrate the coming of Christmas. 

When do we celebrate Advent? 

Advent commences four Sundays prior to Christmas day and runs through December 24th. Some years Advent contains only 22 days, and other years there are as many as 28 days. In 2013, Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st, so there are 24 days in Advent this year. 

Advent may be observed once each week, but it is meant to be celebrated daily. So, over the next few weeks, I will be posting a weekly schedule that will include include daily events for the following Sunday through Saturday. There will be four posts, plus one on Christmas Day: 

How do we celebrate Advent? 

There are many ways you could observe the Advent season:
  • Read Biblical passages highlighting the story of Jesus. 
  • Incorporate fasting. 
  • Study an Advent devotional. 
  • Light an Advent wreath. 
  • Hang a Jesse Tree (which, according to Wikipedia [very reliable source;)], is a depiction of Jesus's ancestry). 

I don't want to bite off more than I can chew the first year I incorporate this tradition into my family, so I will start small and simple; easy enough for my children to understand and appreciate. I simply want my children to learn about the story of Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas. So, we will do a mish-mash of things. 

Advent Stockings
We will light an Advent wreath and read through Biblical passages that correspond to the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree has daily ornaments (or pictures) that walk you through the story of Jesus. I may also include some devotional questions geared for adults. In honor of my German heritage, we will enjoy delicious chocolate each day from my Advent stockings I made a few years ago. 

As the years roll on, my hope is that my family looks forward to celebrating Advent and hearing about the story of Jesus and what that means in our every day lives. 



No matter what age you are, I hope you enjoy these series of posts, and that you learn a little bit more about Jesus's coming to earth as a man as an expression of God's love for us, not to condemn us but to save us. [John 3:16, 17]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Flashback Friday: Cloth Gift Bags

Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! Tis the season for gift giving, so here is a sewing tutorial to personalize the presents you give. 

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Double-Turned Hem
Supplies:
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric (your desired size, depending on the size of your gift)
  • Coordinating thread
  • (2) - 12" satin ribbons
Rather than wrapping your gifts in traditional wrapping paper -- or using those recycled gift bags from last year, perhaps you would like to spruce your gift up by making a home-made cloth gift bag. This project is simple and quick, so you may still have time to squeeze it in before Christmas!

You can make the gift bag any size that you desire depending on the gift going into the bag. The instructions below are for a gift bag used to "wrap" a wine bottle.

Supplies: 12" x 13" piece
of fabric and (2) - 12" strands
of satin ribbon

First, cut out your material the desired size. (For the wine bottle, I cut the fabric 12" x 13".) To limit the number of seams you will need to sew, I use one piece of fabric and simply fold it over, so you only have to sew the bottom and one side. However, you can certainly cut out two pieces of equal size and sew three sides of the fabric.

Once the fabric is cut, sew a double-turned hem along the opening of the bag. Using the iron, press the fabric approximately 1/2 inch along the top edge. Then, fold the fabric over again another 1/2 inch and press with the iron. Pin the hem in place and sew along the edge of the fold. (Refer to the "Linen Napkin" post for more detailed instructions on a double-turned hem.)



Iron a double-turned hem along the
top edge of the bag.

After the hem is sewn, fold the fabric in half so the right-sides are together (or if you have two separate pieces of fabric, place the pieces right-sides together). Pin the fabric in place along the bottom and side edge.

Bag pinned
right-sides together
Before we sew the bag together, we need to insert the ribbon. Take the two pieces of ribbon and insert it approximately 3 inches below the top edge with the hem. (You can certainly place the ribbon higher or lower along the edge depending on the gift you will be placing in the bag.) The long part of the ribbon should be "inside" the bag (or in between the two "right-sides" of the fabric). You will only have a small tail hanging over the pinned edge.


Sew along the outside edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Be sure not to sew the opening shut where you have just sewn the double hem. Before you turn the bag right-side out, clip the corners to avoid bunching. 

Clip the corners to avoid the fabric from
bunching when turned right-side out.

Turn the bag right-side out and press. You have made a home-made cloth gift bag your friends and relatives are sure to appreciate!




May you feel God's love through His ultimate Christmas gift:  His Son, Jesus. Merry Christmas! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Flashback Friday: Apple Pie

I'm starting a new post series, Flashback Fridays, where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! In light of the holiday season approaching, here is my tutorial on apple pies. 


Skill Level: Intermediate
Skills Attained: Pastry Dessert
Supplies/Ingredients:
  • Pie plate
  • Butter knife
  • Pie crust
  • Aluminum foil/pie crust covers
  • Medium-size bowl
  • 6 c. (about 2 1bs.) Apples (prefer tart apple like Granny Smith or Mutsu)
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 c. White Sugar (additional for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 2 T. Flour
  • 3/4 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. Ground Cloves
  • 1 t. Milk
  • 2 T. Butter 
Like many Americans, Thanksgiving is probably my favorite meal of the year. But, it's not because of the turkey (Actually, turkey is probably my least favorite meat.), mashed potatoes (I think I prefer a loaded baked potato.), or even the stuffing (In fact, I truly dislike "wet bread", but don't get me going on that tangent.). The reason I love Thanksgiving meals so much is for the pie! I do enjoy pumpkin pie, but I actually prefer apple or pecan. So in this post, I will share with you a recipe for my most sacred and prized dish: apple pie.

As I mentioned in my previous post, "Pie Crust", making a pie sounds like a very intimidating task. Fear not!  My hope is that this post and the last post equip you with all the knowledge and resources you need to make your [perhaps very first] pie. Let's dig in...

******

Before you begin the pie filling, make your pie crust, wrap it in plastic wrap, and stick it in the refrigerator. This allows the pastry to chill sufficiently while you prepare the filling. 

To begin the apple filling, peel and slice your apples. Certain types of apples are better for cooking than others. You want to find a tart apple that isn't too sweet. My favorite apples to use are Granny Smiths. Recently, I used Honey Crisp and Mutsu, and I found those to be equally tasty. I also like to use a combination of apple types: a few Granny Smiths and a couple Honey Crisp. Go wild. Get crazy. ;) 

As the pictures show, slice about 2 pounds of apples about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick until you have 6 cups. If the apples are too thin, the fruit can overcook and get mushy. If the apples are too thick, the fruit may not cook enough and be too crisp. 


Once your apples are cut, place them in a medium size bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. This prevents the apples from turning brown. Then, add the following dry ingredients: (Note: You may want to increase the amount of sugar depending on the tartness of your apples. I don't like overly sweet pies, so 1/2 c. of total sugar is on the low end of what I would recommend. Use your discretion.)

  • 1/4 c. White Sugar 
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 2 T. Flour
  • 3/4 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. Ground Cloves

Gently toss the ingredients to coat the apples. 


Take your pie dough out of the refrigerator. If the pastry is not pliable, let it sit for a few minutes. Roll out the pie crust and place over your pie plate. Pour the cinnamon-sugar fruit mixture into the pie crust.


Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small cubes and place on top of the apple filling. Roll out the pie crust for the top and drape it over the top of the apple mixture. (For more detailed instructions, read my  "Pie Crust" post.)


Next, you need to seal the top and bottom pie crust together by crimping, or fluting, the edge. There are a variety of ways you can flute a pie crust, but I prefer using my fingers to crimp the edges. Once the pie is sealed, cut away the excess crust with a knife. (For more detailed instructions, read my  "Pie Crust" post.)


Using a knife, cut slits into the top of the pie crust so that air can escape while baking. This will help prevent the pie from blowing up in the oven. (Always a good thing.) Here's a chance for you to get creative. I attempted to cut a flower on the top, but art was never my strong suit. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of milk and sprinkle with sugar. 


Using aluminum foil or pie crust covers, cover the edge of your pie to prevent burning. Place the pie into a 375 degree preheated oven. Place aluminum foil beneath the pie in case the filling overflows. You could also use a cookie sheet, but then you would have to scrub the mess. I prefer the foil because you can simply throw it away. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Remove the pie crust cover and bake for another 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 


Enjoy your delicious apple pie!


Generally, most fruit pies follow the same recipe. However, some fruit (like peaches) create more juice when cooked. This may create a runnier pie filling, so you may need to add a thicken agent such as flour, cornstarch, or dried tapioca. Additionally, some fruits are sweeter than others, so you would alter the amount of sugar added. 


I hope you feel equipped and ready to bake 
your pies for Thanksgiving! 

Please share your pie-making experiences. If you made your first pie, please tell us how it went! 

****

Apple Pie Recipe:
  • Pie Crust
  • 6 c. (about 2 1bs.) Apples
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 c. White Sugar (additional for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 2 T. Flour
  • 3/4 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. Ground Cloves
  • 1 t. Milk
  • 2 T. Butter 

  1. Prepare pie crust, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator while making pie filling. 
  2. Peel and slice 6 c. of apples about 1/4" - 1/2" thick and place into a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. 
  3. Add dry ingredients (sugars, flour, and spices) to apples; toss until apples are coated. 
  4. Roll out the pie dough and place over your pie plate. Pour the cinnamon-sugar fruit mixture into the pie crust.
  5. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small cubes and place on top of the apple filling. Roll out the pie crust for the top and drape it over the top of the apple mixture.
  6. Seal the top and bottom pie crust together by crimping, or fluting, the edge. Cut away the excess crust with a knife. 
  7. Using a knife, cut slits into the top of the pie crust. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of milk and sprinkle with sugar. 
  8. Using aluminum foil or pie crust covers, cover the edge of your pie. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Remove the pie crust cover and bake for another 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.