Czech Heritage · Holidays

Old Czech Prayer for the New Year

Old traditions, stories and folk lore are precious to me, especially when it comes to my Czech heritage.  While this Prayer is from another time, it brings to mind the challenges of the time, not that much different than today.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy 2019!

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WE EXTEND TO YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May the next year be more fruitful, more peaceful, more full of good health and better than any you’ve known in the past.

May you have all the earthly good which is possible to come from the hand of God.

And in the life hereafter, we wish you the glory of heaven.

And while on this earth, may we be tolerant of each other.

And on the lighter side,

We wish also that all your cows would be fat,

That the milk they give be heavy with cream,

And that your cheeses be as large as a table,

May your yard be full of chickens and geese,

In the springtime may you carry seed in small bags to your fields,

And in the autumn harvest may you require wagons upon wagons to bring in your harvest.

 

Book Club · Holidays · New Favorite

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake is absolutely yummy!  I’ve served it multiple times with great reviews and requests for future events.  This is a definite favorite in my recipe box!

CINNAMON APPLE PIE CAKE

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon- sugar (1 1/4 T. sugar + 1/4 t. cinnamon)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups superfine white sugar (see *Tips below)
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil (see notes below!)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-Purpose Flour
more cinnamon-sugar to sprinkle on top (same as above)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and then spray again.
  • Layer the apple slices in the pan until they come about 2/3 of the way up the side. (I went a little higher than that and it worked out fine). Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the apples.
  • Prepare the batter by beating the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil (see notes below about the amount of oil called for) and the vanilla and beat well, then stir in the flour. Pour the batter on top of the apples, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to allow the batter to sink down and around the apples.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool *completely* in the pan. If you try to remove the cake from the pan while it is still warm, it will tend to break apart. I refrigerated my cake before slicing, and that worked out well. Serve slices with ice cream (warm individual slices in the microwave, if desired).

TIPS:

  • You want “caster sugar” for this recipe: It is a finer grind than table sugar, but not as fine as powdered. Look for “Baker’s Sugar” at the store, or simply put regular white sugar in your food processor and give it a few whirls to create superfine sugar.
  • NOTE:  In the original recipe from this cookbook, the author calls for 1 1/2 cups of oil.  Although my pie cake turned out just fine the way the recipe was written, when I make it again… I will definitely try using 3/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup applesauce instead.  Some readers have noted that this has worked well for them.
SOURCE:  RecipeGirl.com (Adapted slightly from Monday Morning Cooking Club) and http://www.recipegirl.com/2013/09/30/cinnamon-apple-pie-cake/print/
Holidays · New Favorite · Vegetarian

Gobble Gobble Vegetable Platter

Let’s be honest.  Thanksgiving is typically not a vegetable-rich zone.  I love the idea of adding a vegetable platter for adults and children to munch on before, during and after the main event.

 

Inspired by Pinterest, I made this platter last year thinking my 4 year old grandson would think it was cool.  In passing, he may have thought as much but the adults seemed to enjoy it more.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  Wishing many blessings to you and yours.

Eatingrichly.com

Holidays · New Favorite

Fireside Coffee Mix

Curling up by the fire with a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate is one of the things I look forward to as we approach the holidays and cold, snowy weather.

Last year, my daughter, Megan, introduced me to Fireside Coffee and I was a big fan. I kept a container ready all of last winter and will do the same this year.  I made my Fireside Coffee with decafinated coffee so I could enjoy it day or evening.

What a wonderful gift this would be for neighbors and friends.

FIRESIDE COFFEE MIX

2 cups powdered cocoa mix (15 packets of Swiss Miss individual servings)
2 cups powdered coffee creamer
1 cup instant coffee (I used decaffinated)
1.5 cups sugar (I used 1.5 tablespoons of Stevia instead)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Mix ingredients well.  Store in tins, jars, or plastic bags.
  • Mix 2 heaping tablespoons mix with 2/3 cup very hot water.  Stir and enjoy!
Family · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home

Thanksgiving Family Favorites

And these are a few of my favorite things!  Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

CRANBERRY RELISH

CRANBERRY BREAD

PUMPKIN PIE

The Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

PUMPKIN BREAD

PUMPKIN BARS

QUINOA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PINE NUTS, FETA

ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CINNAMON SQUASH, PECANS & DRIED CHERRIES

TURKEY AND DRESSING

TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

Sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day is such a treat. I’m usually not a big fan of actually making them (but always a fan of eating them) because of the work involved.  This year, however, I was motivated and found the process fun…walk down memory lane. The cookie recipe came from my sister, Carolyn.  She made these when her kids were younger and I loved them.

 

My kids and I started a tradition last year of gathering around Valentine’s Day for a group dinner and, this year, the cookies will be our dessert.  I loved cutting out the smaller hearts for the little ones.  We need to enjoy it because who knows when I’ll be motivated once again!

SUGAR COOKIES

3 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shortening (butter, Crisco, etc.)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs.  Add sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat well.
  • Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix well.
  • Chill dough for at least one hour (I chilled overnight).
  • Roll out 1/2 dough on floured surface and return remaining dough to refrigerator until ready to roll out.  (I found the dough a bit sticky so used quite a bit of flour while rolling out).  Cut into desired shapes.
  • Optional:  At this point you can sprinkle with decorative colored sugar if you don’t want to ice the cookies. I did this for half of the recipe.
  • Bake cookies on ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes or until a light brown on the edges.

CREAMY ICING:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 tablespoons cream (or half and half)
drop or two of red food coloring (to reach the desired color of pink or red)

  • Blend ingredients together to make an icing with a thin consistency.  This will be enough icing for the entire cookie recipe.  I made half of the icing recipe and iced half of the batch.

 

Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home · My Roots

Cherry Kolaches, our Christmas Day Tradition

The gifts are wrapped, the house is decorated, and the baking is done. This year I thought I’d take a break from making Kolaches for Christmas Day until I mentioned this to my family. WHAT? BREAKING FROM TRADITION? So, I will not break the tradition and made them today.  The truth is I love them as much as my daughters and their families.

This year I used my Mother’s Foundation sweet dough which she used for cinnamon rolls and Kolaches. My KitchenAid mixer makes easy work of making bread instead of taxing my arthritic wrists. The past several batches of bread I’ve made from standard flour have been too dense, so I decided to try King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour. I loved the result with a very light sweet dough that melts in your mouth.

The cherry filling started with a bucket of frozen sour cherries I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last summer. img_8562

There is nothing better than the taste of those cherries. Truly, I could eat a bowl of the cherry filling and forget the bread dough!

I also make a dozen chocolate kolaches which started as a request by one of son-in-laws, now a family favorite as well.  I simply put chocolate chips (or this year a dove milk chocolate square) in the middle of the dough ball and then pinch it closed.  Let it rise to double in size then bake. When you remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

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Another tradition for our Christmas Day celebration is the Nordic Kringla.  Turns out Kringla is a big hit with my 3 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter.  My 6 week old grandson has yet to weigh in…but next year…

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year!

CHERRY KOLACHES, our Christmas Day Tradition

Mom’s Foundation Sweet Dough

2 cakes (Packages) yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour (I used 6 cups King Arthur Bread Flour)
3 eggs, beaten

  • Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside to soften and rise.
  • Scald milk.  Add shortening, sugar and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour to make a batter.  Add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs, and beat well.
  • Add remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough. Knead lightly and place in greased bowl. Cover and let set in warm place, free from draft.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  • When light, punch dough down and shape in balls about the size of a walnut and place on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 10 minutes
  • When risen, push the centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of your choice).  Let rise again.
  • Bake at preheated 400 degree oven (375 degrees for convectional oven) for about 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter, and food coloring and cook until thickened. (Mixture will be very thick.)  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

Reference:

KOLACHE … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

Holidays

Peppermint Rice Krispie Treats Snowballs

Rice Krispie Treats are a family favorite and I love peppermint so this sounded like a fun, simple recipe to make. The results are cute, the perfect snack to leave for Santa Clause (and his helpers).  It’s best to eat the treats within a couple of days as they tend to lose their ‘snap, crackle, pop’.

PEPPERMINT RICE KRISPIE TREATS SNOWBALLS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-14 Oz. bags White Candy Melts
6 cups Rice Krispies® cereal
⅓ cup crushed candy canes
1 10 oz. package marshmallows
¼ cup butter

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
  • Add in the marshmallows and allow them to melt completely.
  • Add in the crushed candy canes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies®.
  • If making balls, pull out heaping tablespoons from the pan and roll into balls. Add a candy can into the center of each ball.
  • If making cut out shapes, press the Rice Krispies® mixture into a pan prepared with cooking spray.
  • Allow to cool for about five to ten minutes and then cut out your favorite shapes.
  • Add a candy cane into the top end of the treat.
  • Place your finished treats into the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool down.
  • Melt the candy melts according to package directions and add in the vegetable oil to thin the mixture.
  • Dip your cooled treats into the chocolate, sprinkle or decorate, and set aside to cool and harden completely.
  • Note: For a quicker version, simply substitute one 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips for the melts and oil. Add the chips in with the marshmallows and heat until completely melted. Proceed with adding the candy canes and Rice Krispies®. You can then roll your balls and add sprinkles to the still warm treat.

Recipe from SheWearsManyHats.com

Family Favorites · Holidays

Roast Beef Perfection…Centerpiece of Holiday Parties

What says the holidays better than a delicious Prime Rib or Cross Rib Roast with Horseradish sauce. The original recipe for closed door cooking of the Prime Rib came from Colorado Cache Cookbook, still my all-time favorite cookbook.  We have served this recipe many times, always a big hit.

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This time, however, the balsamic vinegar and rub were new and I loved the results.

ROAST BEEF PERFECTION

1 Prime Rib or Cross Rib Roast, any size
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, removed from stems and chopped
1 tablespoon coarse sea or kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place Prime Rib in roasting pan and brush with Balsamic vinegar.  Make a paste of the garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Rub paste mixture over the roast.

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  • Place roast in oven and cook for 1 hour.  Turn the oven off and KEEP THE OVEN door closed.
  • 45 minutes before serving, turn the oven to 300 degrees. Remove from oven and rest for 5-10 minutes.  The roast will be juicy medium-rare and perfect every time. If you like your Prime Rib cooked to medium, just add 15-20 minutes to the initial cooking time.

Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons prepared horseradish

  • Stir together and refrigerate until serving time.

Recipe inspired by Colorado Cache Cookbook and What’s Cooking America

Family Favorites · Holidays

Kringla for Christmas…Almond vs. Anise

A Christmas tradition in our house is to make Kringla, typically flavored with Anise extract. My oldest daughter Megan, likes Kringla, but not the taste of Anise. Lucky for her, I was out of Anise extract and tried Almond Extract instead, and loved the results.  I had to double the amount of extract to make sure the Kringla actually carried the almond flavor.

Kringla…hot chocolate…Kolaches (cherry and chocolate)…family gathered in the living room late Christmas morning…what a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas.

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Our new tradition…Almond Kringla.

KRINGLA…ALMOND STYLE

I usually double the recipe and freeze several to enjoy long after the holidays are gone.

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups flour

  • Beat egg and sugar together. Add anise extract, melted butter, buttermilk and 1/2 of sour cream.
  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with remainder of sour cream and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Mix together flour, baking powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Mix together flour mixture alternately adding egg mixture and sour cream mixture. Dough will be very stiff and you will need to finish mixing with your hands.
  • Chill dough overnight.  Remove 1-2 cups of dough at a time so the dough remains chilled.  Take a small piece of dough (size of a small walnut) and roll into a ball and then into a pencil shape.  Shape the dough into a pretzel shape and place on a greased cookie sheet.
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  • Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven and then on top rack of oven for 2-3 minutes. Bottom of Kringla should be golden brown–tops may not be brown.  (I have found that every oven is different.  Mine tends to run hot so I decrease the amount of time on the bottom shelf to 3 minutes.)  In a convection oven, I’ve found 5 minutes on the middle shelf to be sufficient.
  • Cool and store in airtight container. Great warm with butter and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.