Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ahhhh yes....a steaming cup of Hot Chocolate.....

Hot Chocolate is one of those sweet treats we love to enjoy during the holidays, or even just on a cold day.
I have tried many different kinds, right down to the home-made mix my mother makes (and we sell at our Bakery) But this is one recipe I just have to try: 

Wittamer’s Belgian Hot Chocolate 
(Wittamer's is said to be one of the best chocolate shops in Brussels)
Four to six servings
1 quart (1l) half-and-half or whole milk
8 ounces (230g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces (115g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
tiny pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk, with the chopped chocolates and salt, stirring until the chocolate is melted.
2. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk, heating until the mixture is warmed through. Add the cinnamon.
3. Use a hand-held blender, or a whisk, and mix the hot chocolate until it’s completely smooth. Serve very warm.
At Wittamer, it’s served with a poof of whipped cream and chocolate curls.
 Leftover mix can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, and re-warmed in a saucepan or microwave oven.

Normally I always add marshmallows, maybe just the kid in me, but its a must. Oh, and home-made marshmallows, even better! AND...cinnamon, gotta add some cinnamon, not only does it zest up your hot chocolate, but cinnamon has so many health benefits (as I have mentioned before in cider) but hey another important one- just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory, which especially around the holidays with my bogged down brain I can use any help I can get!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The bell....

So we had dinner at moms tonight...the girls put up some more ornaments on her tree, and what did I find? My bell I made my mother years ago hanging in middle of the tree, the one she so proudly has hung every year since. The one that is hanging on for dear life, that little plastic dixi-cup with whats left of dried glue and remnants of glitter, and a bell that now struggles to ring inside.

That love and pride my mothers mother had in her children, and what my mother in turn has had for me has helped mold me into the mother I am today. I hope my children look up to me with so much love and so many memories as I have been blessed with.

Yep, it's Flax time again!

So, during this holiday season, we can still eat healthy, and it can still taste great! Again, I use my favorite substitute of ground flax for my eggs, and then substituted applesauce for the butter.

**Reminder: 1 egg=  1 TBSP of ground flax mixed w/3 TBSP water


I took my whole wheat chocolate chip muffin recipe and substituted the eggs with flax, and the butter with applesauce, added DARK CHOCOLATE chips, and cranberries (even better!....and even more antioxidants!) Oh and of course sprinkle with extra whole flax seeds, giving it a nuttier flavor. They were delicious, and popped with even more flavor as you bit into one and got the mixture of dark chocolate and cranberry......YUMMMM......and guilt free!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

family traditions continued....

Well Thanksgiving is over, and its time to put up the Christmas decorations, ......and the most important part for us...... DECORATING THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

Every year, my grandmother would pick out an ornament that represented who we were that year. Something special about us, that something neat that we were into, sport we played, interest or hobby we had, was somehow represented in an ornament. Every Christmas when it was time to put up the Christmas tree it was so much fun pulling out our ornaments. Checking out each one, reflecting on why we got a little squirrel in a rocking chair sewing, or a Koala bear with a telephone, or one of my absolute favorites, Santa Clause with a belly full of cookies :)

Tonight we put on the Christmas music, pulled out our family ornaments, all of mine from when I was younger, and then watched my three children squeal in delight and get excited when I would pull out one of theirs, reminiscing on why their grandmother gave them that ornament for that year. Talking about what they might get this year. See, my mother now carries on that tradition, and I treasure it so much, as I know they do too. I miss my grandmother so much, and its such a neat piece of our  history together that I get to remember every Christmas, as we continue this family tradition.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Put those expensive pie weights back on the shelf!

You don't need to buy the expensive pie weights at the kitchen stores you see. You can simply line your pie crust with a sheet of parchment, and fill it with any kind of dry bean you have (I use pinto) It will weigh down your crust so you don't get that annoying puffiness anywhere, when you need to par-bake or bake it unfilled.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie crust made easy....

Ok, pie crust can seem like a task, but it really can be super easy!

Here is my tip, don't use flour to roll out your pie crust, use POWDERED SUGAR! It won't add too much flour into your crust, and dry it out, and it helps roll it out smoothly. Also, make sure your dough is chilled, if it is too soft, it will get mushy and stick to everything.....and well, that's just not fun.....

Sprinkle powdered sugar all over the table, and rolling pin.
 get a chunk of your pie dough
Roll it out a little bit, and sprinkle again.
Roll it out some more
Set your pie tin on top to make sure you have rolled it out big enough to fill it.

Roll your dough up around your rolling pin
Roll it back over your pie tin

push your pie crust firmly into pie tin

Use a pairing knife and cut around the sides to cut excess crust off
pinch all the way around

fill with desired filling .....I chose pumpkin :0)

Now I always have left over crust and filling when I make pumpkin pie, so what do I do??
.....pumpkin pie minis, so cute and so yummy!!
cut your crust to fit muffin cups

fill with pumpkin filling
cut some cute little leaves or pumpkins

Bake up for a little tasty mini-pumpkin pie!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How do you like your apple pie??

Traditionally, pies are such a big part of Thanksgiving, and of course apple pie being on the list of must haves, I am curious to know, what is the favorite? A pretty Lattice crust topping for your apple pie?

.....or that yummy French apple pie, with the sweet struesel topping?? Both so good in their own right,....which one do you prefer?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Are you a Twinkie lover? Not to worry, I have a recipe for you!!

Are you a twinkie lover? Bummed because Hostess is closing their doors? Not to worry...... you can make your own cream filled cakes!!
Check out the recipe below,  if you try it, make sure to come back and comment and let me know how it turned out for you.

Cream filled cakes

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat all of the following ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth:
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cold water
7 unbeaten egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Beat 7 egg whites until very stiff
Fold egg whites into batter in thirds: Fold in, dont beat!

Fill snack cake pans 2/3 full with batter. When baking it will puff up quite a bit, then shrink back down while cooling. Bake 8-12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

If making these in cupcake form, increase baking time about 5 minutes.

Prepare filling while cake cools.
2 TBSP ap flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 TBSP salted butter
4 TBSP shortening
1/2 cup sugar

 Cook flour and milk over medium heat until paste forms, stirring constantly so it doesnt brown. Remove from heat and let cool about a minute. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Press a piece of plastic wrap down to the surface of the paste to avoid forming a skin and set aside to completely cool. In mixing bowl, beat butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy, scraping bowl to fully incorporate ingredients.  Add cooled flour/milk mixture and continue beating on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Use a pastry bag and piping tube to fill snack cakes. You can store these cakes at room temperature well wrapped for up to 4 days.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

...time goes by

An awesome memory....Thanksgiving, was one of the last Holiday meals I got to cook with my grandmother before she passed away. I would give anything to have more of those times. It makes you realize how important it is to spend as much time with your loved ones as you can. Be thankful and cherish every moment you get before they are gone. I love that my children get to make those memories as a family, so much love can come from the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Local Raw honey

So my mom came home the other day from a Bazaar and had a wonderful treat for me. Local Raw Honey, and a container full of  a wonderful childhood memory, actual honeycomb! I was so excited! My Great-Uncle had a farm, and he raised bee's, I remember getting jars of honey with honeycomb in it, and taking little chunks and chewing the wax until all the honey was gone. I don't really know how to describe it really, but truly, an experience you have to try for yourself. My children have now gotten the "sweet" experience and I must say enjoyed it quite a bit!

So, lets get down to business, the Health benefits, just to name a few:
~It has carbohydrates which supply energy and strength so it can provide and energy boost and reduce muscle fatigue
~Known to help relieve morning sickness, some say even more than traditional soda crackers
~Great for sore throats and laryngitis
~And the biggie for my family, and why I'm such a big advocate of local raw honey, is how it helps with seasonal allergies. Local raw honey is honey that hasn't been heated, pasteurized or processed in any way, and contains natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants, and many other important natural nutrients. When honey is pasteurized, it loses these nutrients, and is basically equal to sugar with no nutritional value. Local honey comes from bees that have picked up specific pollens that you may be allergic to. Honey bees will collect pollen from different species of plants, and it will be present in small amounts in their honey. When you eat honey that was produced in the same area, the honey acts as an immune booster when taken in a little bit a day for several months before pollen season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Pound cake

OK fellow Bakers..... this is simple, I took our family pound cake recipe and added:

1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1 TBSP flour
1/4 cup pumpkin
and voila, Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake.....soooooo delicious!!
Experiment with your own recipes and let me know what you come up with!

YUMMM....I did it again :)

So this time I substituted eggs with ground flax and the butter with applesauce, the only fat in these is a little bit of buttermilk (which has much less fat then regular milk) and Seriously they are really good!! Oh and threw in some strawberries with the blueberries which added another extra flavor profile :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

A cup of Hot apple cider a day....keeps the doctor away??

So that saying " an apple a day keep's the doctor away" made me look at my cup of Hot Apple Cider, that I absolutely love to indulge in this time of year, and got me thinking..........those of you struggling with a cold, bronchitis, the flu, etc, lets think about this:

Hot Apple Cider has quite a few benefits if you consider what comes in that little package called an apple.:
 It's Hot! (great for anyone with a nasty cold)
Apples are high in vitamins C (great for boosting your immune system!)
Apples are rich in flavanoid (known for their antioxidant effects)
Apples are low in calories (contains natural sugars so it can help curb sugar cravings)
Apples help prevent cancers, and contain phenols which help reduce bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.
Apples are high in fiber.
Apples prevent tooth decay- the juice from apples have properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria
Apples can help protect your brain from brain disease, as they contain phytonutrients which help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinsons.

Don't forget to throw in a cinnamon stick or sprinkle a little cinnamon on top,which adds antibacterial and anti-oxidant properties.

Sick or not, enjoy a cup of guiltless Hot Apple Cider this season!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

a pie dilemma....

 I am making an Apple Pie and I have left over apples and pie crust.....what to do, what to do....

                                                        Why not make some apple minis!

Cut your pie crust to fit the bottom of your cupcake wrapper. (be sure to spray the paper wrapper before filling them so they dont stick to it. Top it with apple mixture, and cut another circle of pie crust for the top, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until apples are tender.

Arent they cute! A perfect little individual serving, and perfect for parties!


mmmmm.....Rugelach, once baked-the dough flakes us like a croissant or danish, and burst with flavor. The dough has butter, cream cheese, and sour cream cut in and a filling of cinnamon, raisins and nuts.

Make the dough and chill it overnight, roll it out, and sprinkle a layer of the filling mixture over the dough

                                            Cut diagonally into slices and roll each one up.

Bake them off on Parchment for an delicious yummy treat!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



So my mom brought me a bag of goodies tonight, and it was full of pecans!! I have a fond memory of going to a pecan orchard with my family and friends when I was younger and collecting so many bags of pecans. Learning the art of cracking them, so they didn't get crushed inside, and being so delighted when you actually could pull the nut out whole, it was like winning a prize!


   ~Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including:
                – vitamin A
                -  vitamin E
                -  folic acid
                -  calcium
                -  magnesium
                -  phosphorus
                -  potassium,
                -  several B vitamins and zinc.

One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber.

Just a few fun facts to think about when you indulge yourself with a slice of pecan pie this holiday season!

Pumpkin spice whoopie pies!!!

I absolutely love the holidays!
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin muffins
Pumpkin scones
Pumpkin cupcakes.......
How about a Pumpkin Spice Whoopie pie?!!
I used my pumpkin spice cake recipe and my cream cheese frosting for the filling.....yummmmm.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Absolutely Rediculous Cake!!!

Two blogs in one night...crazy, what is crazy is this absolutely rediculous huge cake I just had to share. 5 layers of cake (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry) with layers of chocolate mouse, vanilla buttercream, and strawberry puree in between cake layers. Vanilla buttercream and drizzled strawberry and chocolate ganache all over. So massive, it was named after its rediculousness!!!

LOW FAT Blueberry Flax muffins!!

So I said before I would try out the idea that you can substitute butter with ground Flax, and I did in my blueberry muffin recipe and it was really good!!

If you are going to give it a try- make sure to substitute 3 Tbsp of ground flax for every 1 Tbsp of butter, and up your moisture content/liquids by

Monday, November 5, 2012


                                                        Tis the season for some Challah!!

Challah  is pronounced Há La. It is a  Jewish bread  that is served on Friday night for the Sabbath dinner, and for holidays. The Sabbath dinner is special and sacred so only the best ingredients are used , for example-white flour and eggs.
The bread is traditionally made with water rather than milk, because Jewish dietary laws wont let them eat meat and dairy products served together. Typically Friday night Challah is braided, and can be very fancily braided, and topped with sesame or poppy seeds.

Challah dough makes a delicious pastry that can be used for other things as well. I am about to make a very large batch tomorrow for the dough to wrap the Bierocks, as well as make small rolls for our Kulua Pork sliders we will be serving tomorrow!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So what is all this Flax about???

So what is this magical healthy seed we keep hearing about?? And what do you do with it???

Whole flax seeds are one of the most nutritionally-dense foods. They are rich in the B vitamins and the minerals magnesium and manganese, and they are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Even though they have been around forever, its just more recently that mainstream society has begun to really understand its relevance to a healthier lifestyle.

Apparently because ground flax seeds are easier to digest, it provides more nutritional benefits than whole flax seeds. Which in fact whole flax seeds may pass undigested through the body. The only disadvantage of ground flax seeds is they may go rancid so they need to be stored refrigerated in an airtight container.

The light, nutty taste of flax seed enhances the flavor of food, and adds nutritional value to your diet. Flax seed may be eaten on its own, sprinkled on cereal, popcorn, and salads, or added to oatmeal, yogurt, and blender drinks. Adding flax seed to baked goods adds flavor, extra texture, and good nutrition. Milled flax seed may be baked into a variety of products including breads, pancakes, bagels, muffins, and cookies.

So what do you do with it? Well, it can be as easy as sprinkling whole flax seed on top of a loaf of bread, or sprinkle on your peanut butter on a sandwich or toast, add flax meal into a casserole or other main dishes.

Uses for baking: you can use a small amount by just adding a TBSP of ground flax per 1 cup of flour, or for a larger amount, if you have a recipe with 2 cups or more of flour, replace ¼-1/2 cup of flour with whole flax meal. Depending on the recipe you might want to increase the liquid in your recipe a bit, because flax has a higher absorption.

I have not tried this yet, but apparently you can substitute eggs and fat (one or the other) with flax meal. I get many request for these kinds of things so I am excited to try this out. I will let you know in the future how it works for me!

Below is a loaf of Blueberry flax bread. I used whole seeds, and flax meal in this bread, and it was so good!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

SHMILY Tree Bakery Cafe

...from the beginning....

Memories are made every day. We make them with our children, our parents, our co-workers, friends, customers. If you are anything like me or my family, so many memories that are made come from the kitchen.
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and then Christmas,... two huge food driven holidays. This is the time to remember those loved ones past, and make more memories with those you cherish that are still in your lives. I kept struggling with what should be my first post, and all I could think was family....memories, why I do what I do…………this might be a long one.....

Ever since I can remember I have been baking bread with my grandfather, cooking in the kitchen with my grandmother, creating homemade gifts with my mom, loving every minute of any day that I got to get my hands into something.

This is what I love to do,  from throwing all sorts of different themed parties, or events, to having just about any reason (like holidays) to bake or create something!.

My grandparents were the best cooks and bakers I have ever known. They started baking cakes at home for birthday parties, and then went on to make their first wedding cake for Nana (my great-grandmother) over 45 years ago. They had started with a regular cake recipe and about 20 years later started making his aunt Tishi’s pound cake recipe. (which was a hit!) They started using it from then on and continued making all sorts of cakes.
Through word of mouth they started having a lot of request for their cakes. They usually charged only for the cost of the ingredients, but started making them for some people for a little extra above their cost.
Their cakes were beautiful, and very delicious. As a child, my favorite part when they made cakes was eating the pound cake crust that they had cut off. I remember spreading the left over icing onto graham crackers after they made a cake for someone, and the sugar cubes :0)

They made my wedding cake as well, being the last cake they made together.

After my grandfather’s second heart-attack, my grandparents went to Houston in 1988 to wait for a heart transplant. During that time, it made them realize that they had so many precious recipes, and a lot of them being in their head, they decided to make a cookbook so they wouldn’t be lost. My grandmother with her typewriter, typed every page, and each of us grandchildren at the time wrote up our favorite recipe with a picture to add to it. All of the family was able to add their favorite recipes as well, and this became the Kennedy Family Cookbook.

After everything they have done, and even some of the family tried to get them to make it a business, their business was hospitality. It was hospitality in a different way than many people think about. Everything that came out of their kitchen was for others, to show them they cared, to show them their love, and a testimony of their faith. My grandparents didn’t do it for money. They did it out of love, for what they did, who they did it for, and they did it together. That is what I wanted, to make it a business, and do well at it, but its not all about the money, and I am so excited to have something I absolutely love to do, and makes me feel so good, and through everything I do brings back beautiful memories.

My grandfather unexpectedly passed away a few years ago. My grandparents have always been my inspiration whether it be cooking, baking, or just the love that they shared with each other and their family. I had planned in my head that I would become a baker and own a bakery/coffee shop and would slowly take classes when I had the time and could afford it. When my mom talked about buying one of the resorts we would joke around about me coming and running my place there, but realistically knew I wouldn’t move there because of my kids, and their school system. After he passed away we talked about things, joked about things, but deep down it was always something I thought would be great. I knew when it came time for all of us to move, that I didn’t want to be far apart, as we are very close. After losing my grandparents, I realized I don’t want to miss out on moments in life without them, as well as my kids missing out on that time with their grandparents, that meant so much to me growing up.

Ever since I started school, and the joking around about having a business “together” it became more serious and exciting. My schooling moved into a double major for Baking and Pastry as well as Small Business practices in Hospitality. I wanted to get as educated as I could before we ventured into this business.We looked at many different coast and suprisingly ended up in Foley, Alabama, (which I honestly didnt even know had a beach!).

I know from the memories I have and from the ones my mother has, pictures that my grandmother was great at taking as well as keeping everything, they left a legacy, one I want to continue.
I look forward to researching a little more into these things they did, when I think of love, I think of my grandparents, in so many ways. And so long story short.....for those of you that don't know, my grandfather used to write S.H.M.I.L.Y. on various things around the house for my grandmother to find. It stood for See How Much I Love You. At his funeral the pastor talked about the SHMILY tree that my grandparents built for us. The branches, being all the memories, morals, and values they instilled in our lives. My goal was to open a bakery in their honor, so we now have SHMILY Tree Bakery Cafe. I think that explains it all.