Gingerbread Scones

Christmas would not be Christmas without any gingerbread treats. And these gingerbread scones, topped with coarse sugar that adds a nice sparkly touch, are definitely a treat–especially for breakfast or brunch. They’re not really sweet enough to be considered a dessert scone, but they have a rich gingerbread flavor and are great in the morning with some coffee or tea.

I just saw the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas and it’s the perfect movie for this time of year! It’s about how Charles Dickens came to write his much-loved classic, A Christmas Carol. It will certainly get you in the holiday mood, kind of like how eating gingerbread-flavored things can get you in a holiday mood. Hmmm…I wonder if Dickens happened to have any gingerbread scones as he was writing his story?

GINGERBREAD SCONES by NancyC

Makes 8 large scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium size bowl, mix the molasses, milk, vanilla, and egg yolk (save the egg white for later). Stir this mixture into the crumbly flour mixture, forming a crumbly dough.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about 6 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on prepared baking sheet, then cut into 8 wedges.

Beat egg white well, until foamy, and brush over scones. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 22 minutes, until set. Serve scones warm or let cool.

Have you made any gingerbread goodies this season? Or have you seen the Dickens movie?

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Cranberry Pecan Muffins

I’ve been so glad to see fresh cranberries at the grocery store these past few weeks! I just had to make something with fresh cranberries and muffins seemed like a good idea. I added some orange extract to give these muffins a subtle orange flavor. You could also add some orange zest if you wanted to.

These muffins bake up with nice rounded tops and have lots of cranberries and pecans in every bite! These are great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast or brunch, or for anytime in the fall or winter, for that matter. They also make a nice snack or dessert if you’re wanting something a little less sweet. You could probably substitute dried cranberries for the fresh, but I’ve always made these with fresh–I like their slightly sweet, tart flavor!

CRANBERRY PECAN MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 muffins

  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (or substitute dried cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix milk, butter, orange extract, and eggs. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in chopped cranberries and pecans and stir until evenly distributed in batter (be careful not to overmix). Batter will be thick!

Spoon batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake at 350˚F for 22 to 25 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for a few minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack, or serve warm.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned out? Are you making anything with fresh cranberries for your special meal? Whatever your plans are, have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Let us be thankful…. HEBREWS 12:28

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Easy Corn Casserole

It’s not often that you find a recipe that is wonderful comfort food, inexpensive, and easy to make–like this Easy Corn Casserole. Friends have told me about this recipe and I also did a search in the web comparing recipes, and most of them have these ingredients in common: a can of corn, a can of cream-style corn, corn muffin mix, butter, and sour cream. Most recipes call for anywhere from one to three eggs, but some don’t. Since this kind of casserole is so widely made, I guess you could call this a well-loved comfort food classic.

When I made mine, I decided to use two eggs, and it turned out really well. This is a creamy, full-of-corn casserole that has a delicious corn muffin-like crust on top. A perfect side dish for a big meal. If you’re looking for something to add to your Thanksgiving menu or any holiday meal, this would be a great dish to add! It makes a 9×9″ pan, or about 6-8 servings, but you can easily double it and bake it in a 9×13″ pan for a larger crowd.

EASY CORN CASSEROLE

Makes a 9×9″ pan, or 6-8 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box Corn Muffin Mix (I used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, light sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (you can omit eggs for a denser casserole, or you can use 1, 2, or 3 eggs)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease an 9×9″ baking pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl, combine the corn with the cornbread muffin mix, then add melted butter and sour cream. Add in the eggs, mixing everything well. Pour into prepared 9×9″ baking pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes, or until casserole is set. Remove from oven and serve while hot or warm.

I’ve also seen some recipes that just use an 8-ounce can of corn and an 8-ounce can of cream corn, with 1 or 2 eggs and 1/4  or 1/2 cup butter. One even used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. So, there are lots of variations on this recipe! Have you ever made corn casserole as a side dish for any of your meals?

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Pumpkin Pound Cake

The cooler autumn weather is great for baking and I love to bake pumpkin-flavored things this time of year. I wanted to make something fairly simple and this Pumpkin Pound Cake recipe I found at the Taste of Home site sounded like just the thing to bake! I made a few changes to the original recipe and may have over-baked it slightly because the edges came out a little dark, but otherwise I thought this pound cake was really good. It has a good buttery flavor and the dusting of powdered sugar on top adds just the right amount of sweetness. The cake itself has a lighter pumpkin flavor and isn’t overly spicy, so even if you or your family aren’t crazy about pumpkin bread, you make like this pound cake.

Another nice thing about this recipe is that it makes two loaves! One for now, one for later, or one to keep and one to give. I’m sure this would also make a nice bundt cake, too. The baking time might be a little longer, but you can check it after 60 minutes and see how it’s doing!

PUMPKIN POUND CAKE by NancyC, adapted from Taste of Home

Makes two 9×5″ loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • Optional: powdered sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9×5″ loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add dry ingredients, half at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture in large bowl, then stir in the pumpkin puree until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350˚F for 60 to 62 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean or almost clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

I have lots of other pumpkin recipes I want to try–way more than I will have time to make! What kind of pumpkin-flavored desserts have you been making?

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Yummy Vegetable Pasta (Slow-Cooker Recipe)

Cooking in a crock pot is so easy and convenient, and there are lots of great recipes you can make. I found some really good ones to try in my review copy of the new cookbook Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good. There are lots of great full-color photos in this book that has 100 slow-cooker recipes which include:

  • Vegetable Pot Pie with Biscuits
  • Lasagna in a Soup Bowl
  • 4-Cheese Artichoke Dip
  • Honey Baked Chicken
  • Holiday Ham with Apricot Glaze
  • Garlicky Mashed Red Potatoes
  • Cider-Baked Apples
  • Pumpkin Spice Créme Brûlée

Such a great variety of recipes to choose from! I decided to try the Yummy Vegetable Pasta because I was in the mood for something comfort food-like, and this sounded like just the thing to make! The recipe was easy to follow and the only thing I did differently was add a cup of chopped zucchini, since I happened to have that already. Fresh sliced green beans would be a nice addition, too, if you want to add in an extra veggie or two.

This pasta dish smells great while it’s cooking. And you do have to stir it well before serving, since the spaghetti may clump together a little. But it’s very good and cheesy and yummy, just like the recipe name says! 🙂

YUMMY VEGETABLE PASTA from Stock the Crock (with a few little changes)

Makes 6 to 7 servings

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, with juice or 1 quart canned stewed tomatoes, with liquid (I cut the stewed tomatoes into large chunks)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped zucchini and/or 1 cup sliced green beans
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 pound spaghetti or fettuccine, divided
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided (if you want this dish to be extra-cheesy, use 3 cups!)
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons sliced fresh chives, for garnish

Grease the interior of the slow cooker crock with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together the chopped onion, chopped green bell pepper, stewed tomatoes with their liquid, sliced mushrooms, and oregano (also stir in the chopped zucchini and/or green beans, if using).

Place 1/4 of the vegetables in the bottom of the crock. Top vegetables with half of the pasta, breaking pasta, as needed, to fit. Sprinkle the pasta with half of the Cheddar cheese.

Spoon in half of the remaining vegetables. Top with the remaining pasta, breaking the pasta as needed; the remaining Cheddar cheese, and the remaining vegetables.

In the bowl used to mix the vegetables, whisk together the soup and milk. Pour over the ingredients in the crock.

Cover and cook on low 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the vegetables and pasta are tender.

Before serving, stir the sauce through the pasta and vegetables. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Scatter fresh chives on top just before serving.

Another nice thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t take super-long to make–3 1/2 to 4 hours isn’t bad for a slow-cooker recipe. Have you been making any great-tasting meals in your slow-cooker?

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