You may recall my blog about making body scrubs as Christmas gifts last year. If not you can read it here. My friend, we’ll call her Bee, was so impressed with my creativity and the quality of the scrub I gave her, she asked if I knew anything about using cocoa butter. She had a block of it and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I didn’t have any experience myself but knew a number of lotions used cocoa butter so I told her I’d look for some recipes.
Winter Wonderland February 18, 2014
The first time I saw snow falling was on a high school band trip to Washington DC over Spring break. The cherry trees were in bloom and the weather was beautiful when we arrived. Two days later we awoke to flakes falling outside our windows and kids running down the hotel hallway shouting “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” (more…)
Laughter, Love, and Lemons February 3, 2014
Growing up, my family was part of a family life group at our church and the times we shared together were deeply ingrained on my subconscious. I don’t remember how old I was when the group started to drift apart for a variety of reasons, but then again, I am getting older and memories are harder to call upon.
However, I do remember the love, laughter, and feeling of safety of those nights singing and studying the Bible. I’ve measured every church group since then against the feeling that settled deep in my heart during those gatherings. (more…)
Gifts from the Heart January 23, 2013
As you may recall, I was in a baking frenzy the first couple weeks of December. I had toffee and five different types of cookies piling up in my kitchen, but there was one more recipe I couldn’t wait to try; Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread. This recipe came to me in the November/December issue of Tea Time magazine.
On my weekly stroll through Target I had stumbled upon a package of disposable loaf pans. I dropped them in my cart certain the perfect recipe would come along to fill the pans. My loaf pans were larger than therecipe called for so I doubled the measurements and was able to make 6 loaves (7.5×3.25×2-inch).
When the tea bread was baked and cooler I packaged it up along with my cookies and toffee to give to coworkers, my hairdresser, and my masseuse. I loaded my treats into the car and delivered them around town and the office. Over the next several days my coworkers came to me and thanked me, telling me what their favorite treat had been. When I saw my hair dresser and masseuse this month, they both had stories of how they had shared the tea bread with their families on Christmas and received rave reviews, asking for the recipe. Talking with my masseuse last week about how much her guests had enjoyed the tea bread , I realized that I experienced as much pride in these compliments as I do when I receive compliments on my writing, and I felt the same jolt of happiness that I get when I’m in the kitchen mixing up a new treat.
Why did we get away from homemade gifts? Sure it can be time consuming, but in the long run it shows how much we care about those we are giving the gift to. Next time you are struggling to find the perfect gift, consider opening your pantry or flip through a cookbook. There are bountiful ideas out there for gifts from the heart.
Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread
as seen in Tea Time Magazine
makes 4 mini-loaves
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup melted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring
- Preheat oven to 350
- Spray 4 mini (3×5-inch) loaf pans with nonstick spray with flour. Set aside
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, whisking well. Set aside
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring, stirring well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until wet ingredients are incorporated. (Batter will be stiff.)
- Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, patting level using a spatula.
- Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
* I doubled the recipe and made 6 loaves (7.5×3.25×2-inch).
*A bit of lemon curd spread on a piece of bread is delicious
Tea, Biscotti, and Me August 1, 2012
This weekend I had the privilege of appearing at another Afternoon Tea with the Author, this time in Anderson, SC. The women I met were warm and welcoming. When we offered gifts to those who asked questions, Lois was quick to jump in, asking when I gave my life to God. Since I write Christian fiction, I was actually a bit surprised this question hadn’t come up in my previous Tea events. I was nine when I first prayed for God to come into my heart, and I remember actually thinking a little person was going to come live inside my heart. I enjoyed talking with these gracious Southern women, sharing about my writing process, and where I get my ideas.
The food was wonderful too. I love biscotti and was thrilled to see a plate of homemade biscotti sandwiched between fresh scones and a cranberry-coconut bar that was to die for. Of course I couldn’t leave with out getting the biscotti recipe. If you give it a try let me know what you think.
Pistachio- Craisin Biscotti
Line a heavy, large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk 2 cups flour with 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Set aside.
Beat 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest & 1/4 tsp. salt.
Beat in 2 large eggs – one at a time. Add the flour mixture just ’til blended.
Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pistachios & 2/3 cup craisins.
Form the dough into a 13″ long, 3″ wide log on the parchment sheet. Bake until lightly golden, (about 40 min.) Cool 30 min.
Place log on a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4″ thick slices.
Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake again ’til pale golden. (about 15 min.)
Transfer biscotti to a rack & cool completely.
These may be served plain or dipped in dark or white chocolate & set on rack to set.
- Hazelnut Biscotti (breakfastsocks.wordpress.com)
- Twice Baked (clochesandlavender.com)
- Pipe Dream #122: To Doubly Appreciate Suggestion – Orange, Pine Nut And Dark Chocolate Biscotti (pipingdreams.wordpress.com)
Happy Birthday Pam July 20, 2012
Wednesday was my dear friend Pam’s birthday. Since I was a kid she has been like a second mother to me, but especially more so this past year as my parents have taken to traveling in their retirement years. Pam has taken me in on those holidays my parents were away so I wanted to do something nice in honor of her birthday. After considering several ideas, I decided to invite Pam and her daughter Jennifer over for dinner. I know Pam enjoys grilled chicken, but I’m not confident enough in my grilling skills yet so I decided to make the Garlic Roasted Chicken Breast recipe I recently found. I tested this a couple weeks ago in the toaster oven and was amazed at how juicy it came out in only 15 minutes. This is definitely one of my new favorite chicken dishes.
My shoulder has been bothering me so I admit I made instant mashed potatoes, but I added about a tablespoon of sour cream to the Garlic & Herb mix and they were so creamy and yummy. I could have eaten the whole pot of those. Of course there had to some colorful veggies as well so I sautéed squash, zucchini, and onion in olive oil. This is such an easy, tasty way to add veggies to any meal.
Instead of doing a traditional birthday cake with too many leftovers for our girlish figures, I opted to make lemon soufflés. I discovered this recipe a couple years ago and it is definitely one of my absolute favorite desserts, especially in the summer. It is light and refreshing after a long hot day. I had forgotten the base of the soufflé is actually lemon curd, and aside from the zesting of an entire lemon it is incredibly simple to make. Next time I need lemon curd to go with my scones I will be sure to pull this recipe out.
With my new Afternoon in Tuscany cd playing softly in the background, the house freshly cleaned, and a few candles scattered around, we enjoyed a lovely evening of food and fellowship.