Monday, October 12, 2020

Halloween Decor and Treats!

Halloween Tricks and Treats

Hard to believe we are halfway through October and Halloween is fast approaching!  As I mentioned before, even though nobody but us will see our Halloween decorations ( except for the ghostly wreath on our door) it makes life feel a little more normal to have seasonal decorations around the house. The Jack-O-Lantern pictured above was made the first year we were married...I went to a ceramics class and made this as well as two little ghosts.  It survived many moves with just one little chip in the lid that you can't even see.  
This wonderful ghost was made by my dear Aunt Mamie.  She was in her 90's when she made it - and even added a light and cord to it.   I just LOVE it and enjoy getting "Aunt Mamie's Ghost " out of storage each year.
The wine rack has been taken over by this cute witch...the books were discarded from the library a few years ago.  I used black spray paint to hide the covers and silver letters from the Dollar Tree to mark them.  Last week I finished my bottle of vanilla and soaked off the label to make this potion container.
Added some spiders to our foyer...

A wizard hat to the hallway...this is from Target in the Dollar aisle.  Can anybody resist the stuff in that aisle ???

And our ghost wreath that I made years stays pretty fresh by adding a new ribbon each year.
Love this little pillow!

No Halloween items in our dining room china cabinet...just some fall decoration.
I switched out the pebbles in the candle base for candy corn and added a little jack-o-lantern to the dining room table.

All the decorating made me hungry for a treat and while looking through my recipe box I found my mother's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe.  If you can read the card it says "Mrs. Buckman's Peanut Butter Cookies" and these are the cookies my mom always made...usually at Christmas time.   I called my sister to ask WHO was Mrs. Buckman ???  Turns out she was a neighbor who moved away before I was born!  I said a little prayer for her, and my mom, as I made this recipe.

Mrs. Buckman's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup margarine ( I used Smart Balance)
1 cup white sugar ( I used  monkfruit sweetner from Costco)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter ( I used natural peanut butter from Whole Foods)
2 eggs ( I used egg beaters)
3 cups flour ( I used whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well.   

When thoroughly mixed chill the dough for an hour or so...

Then roll into balls...

And flatten with the tines of a fork...making cross hatch marks. This made me think of my mom...she always let me do this part.

And sprinkle with sugar.  I used the  Demerara Baking Sugar that I use on most of my baked goods,
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Let cool on rack and then enjoy!

They turned out great...not exactly the way I remember my mom's, but still delicious. My mom made them mostly at the holidays and used red and green decorating sugar.  We enjoyed them with a cup of tea...and I bagged up a dozen or so to drop off at a friend's door.  The rest I quickly put in the freezer ....before we ate them all!  I forgot to count how many cookies this makes...but it is quite a big batch.  Next time I make them I am going to try using CHUNKY peanut butter and maybe mix in some chocolate chips.
Do you have any cookie recipes from family that you still make ?  Do you follow the recipe or make substitutions.   I am trying to make treats that are "heart healthy" for my dear husband...and me, too!  Hope you try these cookies and hope you enjoy them.   Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista today....I would be thrilled if you would leave a message below.  Best wishes to all - stay healthy and be safe!



Monday, October 5, 2020

Pumpkin Muffins


Pumpkin Muffins

Nothing says October like something pumpkin baking in the oven.   I have had this recipe for Pumpkin Muffins for many years.   I found it in a booklet I sent for from a Gold Medal flour bag.  Not saying how long ago, but I think I had to tape a quarter to the form to purchase it.   Well worth it - and I have been making these ever since.  

 Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

3 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
4 eggs
1 can ( 16oz.) pumpkin

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put liners in muffin tins.  Beat all ingredients in a large bowl on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl constantly.  Beat on medium speed, still scraping bowl, for 45 seconds.  Put mixture into muffin cups ( I use an ice cream scoop sprayed with non-stick spray).  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
You can also pour into 2 loaf pans and back for 50-60 minutes.
Cool completely.  These keep at room temperature for 4 days, refrigerated for 10 days, or...I make a double batch and freeze them.  They freeze beautifully and defrost quickly!

I found these great baking cups guessed it - AMAZON!  They are neutral Fall colors and work great

You can see how easy these just put everything in at once and mix it up.  As with all muffins, don't over-mix or the muffins will be tough.
I don't use raisins...they are full of sugar.  Heck, if I am going to have sugar I want it to be CHOCOLATE!  These mini morsels add a great touch to the pumpkin.

I put these in at the end of the mixing and just give them a quick mix.
Once everything is mixed I  use an ice cream scooper to put them in the liners....this makes sure they are mostly the same size and gives them a nice, rounded top.

Before popping in the oven I give the muffin tops a light sprinkle with "Demerara Baking Sugar".  You can find it on, you guessed it, Amazon - but I buy it in a big bag at Costco and then put it in this repurposed creamer container.  This makes it easy to sprinkle on top of muffins.
I found these fall leaves sprinkles at JoAnn Fabrics and thought they would be a nice touch...

Just a few on each muffin top look great!
Here is the finished product.  The little leaf sprinkles really held their shape and look so darn cute.
Once they are cool I like to share with my neighbors here in our apartment building.  I often tuck in some fall napkins and a tea bag or two to make a Fall treat.  A little bit of kindness goes a long way during these stressful times.

The rest of the muffins are put in a freezer bag and tucked away for another day.   We like to enjoy them with a bit a cream cheese spread on top - YUM!
Do you like to burn Fall scented candles?  I usually have a candle burning all the time.  I put them on my stove top so that any soot goes into the hood...don't want any marks on my walls.  Even though I use one of those candle topper things I still only burn candles under the hood.  This one smells DELICIOUS !  Sometimes you get a candle that does not really fill your space with the scent, but this one is amazing.
All that baking made me want a simple dinner.  Do you have a Wegmans near you ?  I always buy the crab cakes when we stop by - I cooked these in the air fryer.  Sprayed the fryer with olive oil and then put a little bit of panko crumbs on the crab good.  And because we had a salad and the dinner was "healthy"...we had a Pumpkin Muffin for dessert!
I realized today that due to the Covid 19 pandemic this is the longest we have gone without having company.  I miss having guests in our home for dinner, brunch, about you ?  We are being VERY careful and not having anyone in for any kind of socializing.  I think it is going to be that way for a long time. Until then, we visit with friends - with masks - on the rooftop deck of our apartment building.  Hoping for better days ahead.   
Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista - please leave a comment below and let me know if you have a pumpkin recipe you love, or what you have been baking.  Take care, stay healthy and BE SAFE!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fall for Apple Pie!

 Fall for Apple Pie

When Fall rolls around I love to get out all my Autumn decorations and my baking moves to warm cinnamon treats.  I have been trying to bake mostly healthy treats...using whole wheat flour, sugar substitute, egg substitute, etc. - I was able to attend the education classes at John's cardiac rehab sessions and the class on healthy heart eating was wonderful.  We saw we were doing many things correctly, but there was room for improvement.    
Last week a friend we met on a trip to Italy several years ago posted a photo of the apple pie her husband made.  John saw it and said "ooh, apple pie!"  and I knew I had to make one to start off the Fall season.
Here is the recipe I have been using for years...ever since I found it years ago.

Apple Crumb Pie
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Makes 1 - 9 inch pie.

1 - 9 inch pie shell
6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 Tablespoon lemon juice ( optional)
3/4 cups white sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts ( optional)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of butter

I cut and sliced the apples, but I did not peel them.  I never peel apples for pie or an apple crisp.  
Place the apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.
In a small bowl, mix together white sugar ( I used Zing), 2 Tablespoons of flour ( I used whole wheat), cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sprinkle mixture over the apples until apples are coated.  You can add raisins ( I did not...too much sugar) and nuts to the mix.  I save the nuts to mix into the crumb topping.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry shell.   This is where I usually make a pie shell using Smart Balance margarine and whole wheat flour.  But...this time it was Saturday afternoon, I had a prepared pie shell in the freezer, and thought I would use it up.  In a small bowl ( or I use the mini food processor) mix together the 1/2 cup flour, brown sugar, butter ( once again, I used Smart Balance - and put the walnuts in there, too) and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle mixture over apples evenly. I go into "cinnamon overload" and sprinkle more cinnamon on top of the entire pie!  

Cover the pie loosely with foil and put on a cookie tray to catch spills.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for 25 - 30 minutes longer until top is golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy the fabulous scent of apples in your home.  I served it with a tiny bit of whipped cream on more ice cream for us!
While it was cooling I put out some Fall decorations.   I know that nobody but us ( and you - online) will see them...but it just makes the house look so cozy and ready for the new season.  I added a fall candle, some leaves, and a lovely September print that Ann at On Sutton Place  graciously puts on her site.

I added some leaves to the wreath on the powder room door...

Another fall candle and some leaves...

Our fall mantel with some Philadelphia Eagles thrown in the mix...

Switched out the summer pillows for some fall tones, and added a new animal print pillow found at JoAnn Fabrics on a great sale...

A simple coffee table candle arrangement, and a Fall pillow for this cozy chair!
I love this apple/pear plate I have had for years.  I used to put it in my kitchen window so the sun would shine through it, but since now our entire apartment has these great windows I placed it near this one...

Since these early Fall days are perfect for porch sitting I also put some decorations out there...

I love my Susan Branch Autumn book and put that out every year...the wine cork pumpkin was a gift from a friend...

Now that we are in an apartment and we get very little direct sunlight except in the early morning and late evening I no longer buy live mums...The mums on the porch and these in the foyer are silk and are holding up well for the past few years.
Another look at the foyer table ...

And a simple candle arrangement on the dining room table...the leafy placemat was found on clearance at Pier One...and there was only one - so it makes for a nice centerpiece.  The rustic bowl was made by my niece's husband, and the little apples are from Dollar Tree.

Thanks for stopping by Our New Vista today - I would love you to leave a comment and let me know how you decorate for Fall ?  Are you baking Fall treats?  The pandemic does not seem to be fading so having a cozy home to hunker down in for the Fall seems perfect!   Thanks again for stopping by - stay safe and be well !

Halloween Decor and Treats!

Halloween Tricks and Treats Hard to believe we are halfway through October and Halloween is fast approaching!  As I mentioned before, even t...