Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's 2012 + 1 minute in New York City
Times Square is alive!!!!!!

However, here in West TN, we will have to wait an hour for the big event.

Marshmallows curing overnight:

Happy New Year!
Welcome 2012

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa's Hat Christmas cocktail

...a long awaited visit with a friend
...on Christmas Eve Eve

We enjoyed a feast and sat by the fire remembering years of friendship, while listing to Christmas music on the radio.

Sausage balls from a friend

Homemade vegetable beef soup
Homemade cornbread

Homemade Cheese Biscuits
Homemade (shaken) Santa's Hats (recipe at end of this post)

Homemade Sugar Cookies
Homemade Hot Chocolate

Buche de Noel (yule log) (chocolate filled chocolate glazed chocolate!!) (from Fresh Market)

Angel, watching the festivities

...after all that, it was time for a long winter's nap!

Santa's Hat Christmas Cocktail
(makes 1 cocktail)

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 teaspoons sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 oz cranberry juice
  • 1 oz Cruzan coconut rum
  • 1 T grenadine
  1. Combine powdered sugar and water; brush onto rim of glass
  2. Dip rim of brushed glass into coconut (spread on a saucer for easier dipping)
  3. Sit glasses aside to dry if you have time; otherwise, continue with recipe
  4. Combine cranberry juice, coconut rum, and grenadine in cocktail shaker with ice.
  5. Shake / Pour into coconut rimmed glasses
  6. Add a candy cane

Thank You to everyone who stopped by to read my blog during the past years.  I enjoy reading your  comments and I thank you all for taking a few precious moments of your time to visit bakingpictures.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Merry Christmas!
iPhone photos and Camera + app

Sunday, December 4, 2011

gingerbread espresso latte

Don't let the "stuff' of the holidays get you down...

...follow the Star
("for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him;" Matthew 2)
2 tablespoons gingerbread spice simple syrup

add 3 oz steaming espresso
and the best part...steamed, fluffy, light and airy whole milk
dusted with cinnamon

Gingerbread Spice Simple Syrup
(adapted from here)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 thinly sliced pieces of fresh ginger 
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  1. Mix all ingredients together in pan
  2. Heat slowly to melt sugar
  3. Bring to rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, strain into container, and cool
  5. Store covered in refrigerator

Gingerbread Espresso Latte
  • 2 tablespoons gingerbread spice simple syrup
  • 3 oz espresso
  • 4 oz whole milk, heated and frothed
  • dusting of cinnamon
  • (add a drizzle of chocolate syrup if you need an extra ahhhhhh......)

Cookie recipe can be found HERE.

(maybe this recipe is cappuccino and not latte; it's good by either name)


This blend is basically a mixture of 1/3 of espresso, another 1/3 steamed milk and the rest of the ingredients are frothed or foamed milk. It is known because of its thick layer of milk foam which is its significant identifier. Compared to its latte counterpart, this blend is quite stronger in terms of its taste. You could actually order two sub-types of this blend which are the wet or dry. Dry blends have more foam mixture rather than the steamed milk while wet blends are those with more milk than froth.


There are different foreign term for this blend specifically in French, German and Spanish which means it is likewise known and loved worldwide. This coffee type is often a great breakfast beverage. The recipes on how to make this blend include double shots of espresso and garnished with steamed milk and NOT foam or froth.  This is actually a very filling drink due to the generous amount of milk in its serving. In some baristas or cafĂ©, you would see froth or foam on top of the coffee which is only used for presentation sake. The usual artistic toppings for latte are the leaf or heart shape.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

lemon almond cookies

fresh, tangy, aromatic grated lemon zest
rich, chewy, creamy almond paste
Chewy in the center
Crunchy on the outside edges
look closely at the cracks in the center
with a dusting of sweet powdered sugar 

Lemon Almond Cookies
(adapted from here)


  • 1-7 oz box almond paste, grated
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  1. Sift flour, soda, baking powder and salt; sit aside
  2. Combine grated almond paste, sugar, soft butter, egg, zest and lemon juice in bowl of mixer.  
  3. Mix 3-5 minutes until well combined, light and creamy
  4. Stir dry ingredients into almond paste mixture.
  5. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour (or up to 5 days)
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  7. Portion cookie dough (I used #100 scoop) into 1" rounds
  8. Roll in powdered sugar to coat
  9. Place on parchment lined baking sheet
  10. Bake 12 minutes (don't bake too long; the cracks in the cookies may appear moist, but the cookies are done)
  11. Cool on wire rack
Here are the preparation pictures:

I cut a portion of the dough using a 1 1/2" cookie cutter (bake only 8 minutes)
click HERE for Gingerbread Spice Espresso Latte recipe (pictured above)

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Do not underestimate this light and fluffy, spicy, gingery Gingerbread due to its simple appearance.

It looks plain and homey, you say. 
I say it needs nothing more than an accompanying cup of hot tea.

Notice the dark square within the larger square of the bread.  The top of the bread is crusty and chewy just removed from the oven.  After resting for a day, the top crust of the Gingerbread become soft and a bit sticky, yet equally as delicious as the chewy version.

Gingerbread Square
(adapted from here)


  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 c molasses (I had mild; use blackstrap if you want a stronger flavor)
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Place parchment in 9x9x2" baking pan, allowing overhang on sides for easy removal of baked Gingerbread
  3. Combine first 5 ingredients in pan. Place over low heat; stir until butter is melted; remove from heat to cool
  4. Sift flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon,allspice and cloves into a bowl; sit aside
  5. When butter mixture cools to warm, add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.
  6. Add the milk to the butter/egg mixture
  7. Fold dry ingredients into wet and pour mixture into prepared pan. (This is a very liquid batter and fills the 9x9 pan almost to the top.
  8. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, until the gingerbread tests done in the center (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; bread springs back when touched)
  9. Allow to cool in pan 15 minutes then turn out of pan and cool on wire rack
  10. Store at room temperature for 4 days or refrigerated for a week (I wrapped tightly and froze most of the bread; it's delicious removed from freezer and thawed; serve at room temperature)
  11. Add whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon to serve (or, as I did...serve the bread simply cut into squares)

Friday, November 18, 2011

honey corn muffins

I'm from the South. Every day, Mama made cornbread (cornmeal mix, buttermilk, 1egg, drops of water). For years, I didn't know cornbread other than Mama's cornbread existed.  (I was devastated to find people adding sugar to cornbread!)

Those days are long past, and I seldom make cornbread (even though I DO have my cast iron skillet if needed.)  However,  taco soup needs cornbread for dippin'.

I'm glad I found the honey corn muffins in one of the Baked boys cookbooks, "Baked Explorations."

These were made and consumed at My Friend A's home; so, I only have an iPhone photo.

Notice the course, open texture of the muffins.  I used part medium grind cornmeal and part course grind cornmeal to make the honey corn muffins.  The muffins boast both texture and flavor.

Warm out of the oven, the honey corn muffins had a slight sweetness; yet, broken and dipped into the soup, they held their shape and soaked in all the flavorful juices.

Thanksgiving is just days away.  You need to make these to serve with your leftover turkey - turkey soup.

Honey Corn Muffins
(Adaped from Baked Explorations page 41)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 4 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 c medium grind cornmeal
  • 1/4 c course grind cornmeal
  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 t salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Grease 12 c muffin pan (these stick to the sides) I didn't use muffin liners because I wanted a crisp edge all around the muffin.
  3. In bowl, whisk eggs to break up
  4. Add buttermilk, honey, and butter to eggs.
  5. In separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir only to combine well. Don't over mix.
  7. Pour into muffin wells, about 2/3 full
  8. Bake approximately 15 minutes, until they test done.
  9. Remove from pan and enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

butternut squash baked oatmeal

I'm enjoying a vacation day today - in the middle of the week-
The air is brisk - the sun is shining-
Later, I have to make the icing for the Thanksgiving cake - stress, stress, stress....later

But, just now, all I have to do is (remembering Paris) sip my Grand Earl Grey from Comptoirs Richard a Paris, listen to the Food Network folks discuss Thanksgiving -
And Enjoy my Butternut Squash Baked Oatmeal, dotted with butter and blueberries, and topped with pecan-brown sugar-butter crumble.

Butternut Squash Baked Oatmeal
(adapted from here)


  • 3 oz oats (not quick cook)
  • 1 T ground flax
  • 2 1/2 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c roasted butternut squash puree
  • 3/4 c whole milk
  • 1 T butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 c blueberries
  • 1/4 c pecans chopped
  • 2 t melted butter
  • 1 T dark brown sugar
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl
  2. Combine vanilla, squash puree, and milk in a separate bowl and mix together well
  3. Add wet ingredients to oat mixture and stir together
  4. Pour into baking dish (my dish is about 1 quart; you could use 4 small fruit jars or 4 ramekins)
  5. Sprinkle blueberries over the top
  6. Toss the 1T (4 pieces) butter over the top
  7. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes
  8. While baking, combine pecans, 2 t melted butter and 1 T brown sugar.
  9. After the first 15 minutes, remove baking oatmeal from oven and sprinkle pecan mixture over top
  10. Return to oven and bake additional 10 minutes
  11. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before serving
...looks like fall - tastes like fall...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

chai latte

Make this just for the aroma...even if you never take the first drink of the chai latte.
 But...look what you will miss if you never taste!!!
  • Tazo Earl Grey tea
  • Market Spice Tea - Cinnamon Orange
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • vanilla bean
  • fresh ginger
  • cardamom fancy white pods
  • Indonesia cinnamon sticks (cassia) {saving the real cinnamon for Baklava!}
  • Chinese star anise
  • Ceylon whole cloves
  • black peppercorns
    • honey
    • water
    • raw sugar
    • whole milk
Individually, some of the spices may be on your 'I don't really like that' list; however, combined they each contribute to the wonderful flavor of the whole.

simmering (this s m e l l s  so  good...)

20 minutes later and strained
The post-simmered spices maintain their beauty.
equal parts warm frothed milk and chai concentrate
dusted with ground cinnamon
oh...and, use that left over cinnamon stick!
D E L I C I O U S!

Chai Concentrate
(adapted from here)

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags (black tea)
  • 4 cinnamon orange tea bags (or use total of 8 bags of black tea)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3" section of raw ginger (I didn't peel mine)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 whole star anise pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (I didn't use this; cinnamon orange tea is very orange)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • whole milk
  1. Bring water and sugar to boil, dissolving sugar
  2. Add tea bags, all spices, vanilla bean, and zest
  3. Simmer 20 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and strain into container 
  5. Stir in honey; allow to cool; store in refrigerator for a week
Chai Latte
  1. Heat whole milk to simmer
  2. Froth milk (I used my hand mixer)
  3. Add equal parts chai concentrate and frothed milk to your mug
  4. Dust top with cinnamon
  5. Stir with left over cinnamon stick
  6. Enjoy
cliche, but 'good to the last drop'

Update:  Don't!! throw the spices away after straining them from the liquid.  My spices have been sitting on the counter for a week; they add a whiff of fragrance to the fall air.

Update/Update:  My chai concentrate did get cloudy after a day; I have read that the cloudiness is due to oil extractions from quality tea leaves.  Adding boiling water will reduce the cloudiness.  Equal parts chai concentrate and boiling water yields an enjoyable spicy hot tea.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

adult Hot Chocolate

or...the Baked boy's version of  Carette's le chocolat chaud. I speak from experience and from my table at Carette Paris.
This hot chocolate is for the chocolate lover.  The red-brown color confirms that this is not the water-thin, pre-packaged powder we Americans know as hot chocolate. The velvet smooth texture, and the slow, molten flow of the liquid across the thin china cup and onto the taste buds assures one that this cup of hot chocolate was made with premium ingredients resulting in premium satisfaction.

The original recipe yield states two servings.  I divided the recipe in half, expecting to make one serving.  I suggest that half the original recipe is a 'three-moderate serving portion' or a 'two extravagant serving portion.'  After storing the left-over hot chocolate in a glass jar in the refrigerator overnight,  I reheated it in the microwave stirring after 20 seconds; three 20 second cycles heated the hot chocolate nicely. 
Do not skimp on quality ingredients.  You will be rewarded.  Do not shy away after reading the ingredient list and amaretto.  Though not prominent in flavor, the amaretto seems to bind the overall flavor combination. 

Adult Hot Chocolate
(adapted from the Baked cookbook)

  • 1 oz milk chocolate (I used 34% cacao)
  • 2 1/2 oz dark chocolate (I used 70% cacao)
  • 2 fl oz boiling water
  • 3 1/8 fl oz whole milk
  • 1 1/8 fl oz heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 T Amaretto liqueur
  • whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies if desired
  1. Chop both chocolates and place in shallow bowl
  2. Pour boiling water over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute
  3. Gently stir chocolate/water until chocolate melts; sit aside
  4. Combine milk, cream, and syrup in pan and heat to simmer on top of stove.
  5. Add melted chocolate and whisk constantly until the mixture is almost ready to boil.  ( I didn't allow my mixture to boil.)
  6. Remove from heat;  add amaretto and stir lightly to combine
  7. Pour into mugs or dainty tea cups or short mason jars
  8. Top with whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies if desired
  9. ENJOY!!!!  Savor each sip...
...and don't leave any chocolate in the cup!

fall spice coffee

Let me begin by saying I am not a coffee drinker.  Coffee, with it's many roasts and blends can be as intoxicating (or confusing) as chocolate, wine or cheese.  They all offer varied colors, tastes, textures and aromas.

During a class at CIA, I did taste a wonderful French Press coffee along with a rich, buttery, chocolate croissant.  At that point, I decided that maybe I do like coffee...

Crisp morning air, cloudy days, and leaves falling - who could resist a drink named 'fall spice coffee?'
I wasn't sure about the coffee, but the spices and zest......yes!

stir dry ingredients and add zest
waiting for 200 degree water
dripping for 6 minutes
 waiting for the 6 minutes to pass
(The coffee mug belonged to my Grandfather; remembering him on Veteran's day weekend.)
reflecting the morning sunlight
 cream or sugar?
The spices added depth to the warm morning mug of fall spice coffee.  I think the water dripped to quickly, leaving behind some of the flavorful oils of the coffee bean.  Also, even though the water boiled in the tea kettle, it only registered about 170 degrees on the instant read thermometer.  And, since the mug is not heated, the coffee cooled somewhat quickly.

Thus...opportunities to improve upon the drink when I brew my next cup of fall spice coffee.

Fall Spice Coffee
(adapted from Dessert First)

(yield: one 6 oz cup of coffee)

  • 2T ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 ounces boiling water
  • sugar and cream as desired (or sweetened whipped cream topped with a dusting of cinnamon and a spiral of orange rind-how festive that sounds!)


  1. I used the unscientific/'what I had in the kitchen' method of brewing this cup of coffee.
  2. I doubled the coffee filter, hoping to slow the drip
  3. My antique funnel had too large of an opening; a smaller opening would have slowed the drip.
  4. Stir together all ingredients except water
  5. Pour into coffee filter
  6. Add boiling water and allow to drip brew.
  7. I added 1 teaspoon of cream and no sugar. (For variation/research, next time, I'll skip the cream and add raw sugar-smokey, brown crystals of sweetness.)
I found a funnel with a smaller opening that I will use in the future.
The picture below is simply comparing the variety of funnels....really....


Saturday, October 15, 2011

blessed opportunities

I wake up each morning, and I have no idea where the day will lead.....

...but I know that I continue to be excited about where I'm going.....

I celebrated 54 yesterday, quietly thanking my Mother and Father for giving me life.
I have had the opportunity to experience more than I ever dreamed possible, and there is more to come.

Today's devotional (Matthew 25:  21) began, "take risks for God..."
"the only mistake is not to risk making one..."
"go out on a limb; He won't let you fall..."
"take a big risk; He won't let you fail..."

At present, I'm obsessed with finding and reading Paris blogs.  I love the pictures, and the stories they tell.

Isn't the fingerless lace glove beautiful?

After dinner at Bodega, aboard a boat docked on the Seine, across from Notre Dame, she introduced herself (a famous foreign actress), told us the gloves were made in Spain and worn on her most recent movie.  She was very personable and talked to us with casual, non-rushed ease; she was traveling to NYC within hours.

If you are homesick for Paris, here is one of many sites overflowing with images of the great city.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

pumpkin spice latte

First, make the pumpkin spice syrup ---
While this is simmering, your house will smell WONDERFUL!!!!!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
(adapted from here and here)

  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan
  2. Heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved
  3. Allow to cool, then store in airtight container in refrigerator
  4. Use within 3 weeks

Now, let's mix the syrup with something rich and aromatic - -

Pumpkin Spice Latte
(makes one cup)

  • 4 oz whole milk, heated and whipped to add air
  • 1 oz boiling water poured over 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (dissolve powder)
  • 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup, warmed
  1. Pour all ingredients together
  2. Whip to mix and add more air
  3. Pour into your favorite fall tea / coffee cup
  4. Top with Real whipped cream, sweetened with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla
  5. Sprinkle all with cinnamon

even when the day is stressful... is good.....

iPhone 4 & Camera +

Sunday, October 9, 2011

pumpkin spice espresso muffins

...feels like fall
...looks like fall
...smells like fall

The cinnamon was a gift, brought to me from Estonia.  Thanks LP!

The muffins are moist, melding the flavors and leaving a lingering spice on the palate.  Pumpkin and espresso support the overall flavor, yet are not prominent in taste. Delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Espresso Muffins
(adapted from here)

  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T espresso powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 stick cinnamon, ground fine (or 1 t ground cinnamon)
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1 t salt
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (I used fresh pumpkin, roasted in the oven until tender)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners
  3. Combine the first 8 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl
  4. In a mixer bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugars, and oil.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add dry ingredients, and mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated
  7. Divide batter evenly between the 24 muffin liners
  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until the muffins test done.
I glazed the muffins with 1/3 cup white chocolate chips, melted and a few teaspoons of whipping cream added until of drizzling consistency.

roasted cauliflower

...inspired by Dorie's facebook post today

Roasted Cauliflower


  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed of stem and leaves
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • olive oil
Preparation and Roasting:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. drizzle olive oil over head of cauliflower
  3. sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Roast uncovered for 1 - 1 1/4 hour, or until knife easily glides into head of cauliflower
  5. Enjoy!!