three treats with all the feel of fall

Happy First Day of Autumn! A strong warm wind blew all day yesterday warning us that the piles of leaves will soon be rustling under our feet. The sounds of summer fade to a crinkly whisper and rich green turns to dusty gold. Acorns keep the squirrels busy and we know the world is changing.

harvest apple dip

Applesauce, fresh apple slices, apple butter, baked apples, apple pie, or just a whole apple in your pocket can only mean one thing. September is for apples, and we love this three ingredient apple dip. I always double the recipe, cover the bowl we served it in, and store it in the fridge for next time. We have this at lunch, for a snack, and as a fruit side with supper. It’s only three ingredients: cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.

https://letsdishrecipes.com/2017/09/three-ingredient-apple-dip.html

apple bread

Apple bread is at the top of our family’s favorite quick breads. It’s sweet and soft and we often serve it alongside dinner. You’re going to love this recipe full of chunky apples! We use 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 cups.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-bread/

maple milk

The maple milk is turning into our family’s year around favorite special drink. We used to only have it cold during the summertime, but warm is the best alternative to hot chocolate in case sometimes you want something else :).

It’s just two ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (cold, warm, hot)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (we prefer FirstFruits Farms maple syrup :). Comment or email us if you’d like some!

We sometimes sprinkle cinnamon on top or a little nutmeg (the children’s preferred way).

Do you have simple recipes your family loves? Happy Fall Friends!

 with love, Damaris
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Heirloom Tomato Quiche

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, the tables are overflowing with all sizes and every color of heirloom tomatoes. It’s a beautiful thing to see! Malformed, purple, lopsided, variegated, golden, pink, really every shape and shade is delicious.

We are growing a handful of heirloom varieties this summer. The good-lookin’ ones go out to the farm stand, but a fair share come into the farmhouse kitchen. Too many too eat sliced up, matter fact! We make batches of fresh salsa using jalapenos from the garden, and we also crush the tomatoes and slow simmer with garlic and basil for a simple, traditional marinara sauce. Since the abundance was exceptionally high last week, I picked the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and decided to make a couple quiches.

Our family loves quiches! It’s really a real food, fast food : ) Lately, I’ve been keeping a pie crust or two in the fridge for a late afternoon summer galette that can be made at a moment’s notice. When I told Eva I was going to write this post, she was very excited saying that I had invented this recipe. The truth is there are many similar ways to a quiche, all tasty and rewarding. I have made quiches for so many years, so many ways, that I’ve found how to simplify it to be a quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or supper pleasure for our family.

We don’t have chickens yet, but we’ve had hens in the past, and if you can get your hands on a half-dozen real eggs, this quiche will be all the more satisfying and goldenly delightful.

Heirloom Tomato Quiche

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon herbed salt blend (delicious with herbs de Provence salts, or just seasoned salt)

  • 1 cup of bacon, cooked and cut up/chopped/thinly sliced

  • 1 cup of sharp shredded cheese

  • 1 or 2 heirloom tomatoes (depending on their size), cored and sliced

  • more herbed salt bled of your choice for sprinkling over tomatoes

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your quiche!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto your pie plate. Beat the eggs until fluffy, add milk and herbed salt blend. Add the bacon and the cheese and pour the mixture into the crust-lined plate. Lay the heirloom tomato slices over the egg mixture and sprinkle a little herbed salt blend to flavor the tomatoes. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 5 minutes or more before cutting.

That’s it! Real food the fast way for any day of the week!

Let me know how you like it. I’m sure cooked sausage, ham, or meatless would be just as tasty. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


Swiss Oats: The Breakfast You'll Crave All Summer

Not too long ago, overnight oats had an overwhelming representation on Pinterest and food blogs because of the dish’s simplicity, no-cook, wholesome approach to breakfast. But the healthy overnight oats has in fact been around for well over a century. When you look at this recipe and hopefully try it, think of the beautiful summertime mountains of Switzerland for a moment : )

Swiss Oats or “Birchermüesli” was invented by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a pioneer of holistic medicine and a whole foods diet. In 1897, Dr. Bircher founded a health clinic in Zürich, where he practiced holistic therapy which included whole foods diet, a daily walk, bathing and sunbathing. He also set up exercise equipment for his patients. He created Swiss Oats as a way to get his patients to eat more raw foods and a plant based diet. The original Bircher muesli was soaked overnight with water and lemon juice, and then eaten with yogurt.

I first tried Swiss Oats at a women’s breakfast nine or so years ago. I found it so unusual, refreshing, whole yet delicious. That’s when I did some background research on the dish and fell in love with the story of its creation. I have often shared a bowl with moms who just had a baby because it’s filling and fresh.

Swiss Oats

  • 2 cups of oats

  • 2 apples, cored and chopped very small (or grated)

  • 1 cup raisins or your favorite dried fruit

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 cups almond milk (any milk works fine)

  • blueberries or halved grapes make a delicious addition when serving (bananas add natural sweetness)

  • a splash of more milk when serving

  • honey or yogurt are very common additions (we’ve never used either one)

Combine all the ingredients together in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You’ll enjoy the hassle-free, nutritious bowl in the morning.

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Easy Scones and Crème Fraiche

For years I only every made muffins for a quick snacking or breakfast food, but a friend (an amazing baker too) enlightened me to the wonders of scones. Same one-bowl idea, quick in the oven, and a crumb that delights all palates, scones are amazing. I have tried many recipes since then depending on what ingredients I had on-hand (buttermilk recipes, no egg recipes, you name it), but this one is by far the most dependable.

Scones have a subtle different texture than biscuits since they’re less creamy/buttery. This simple scone recipe will prove that they are a dense, crumbly deliciousness. Sometimes we sugar dust the scones before baking, but the traditional treat just takes a little spreading of jam for sweetening. Dried currants as an add-on is so authentic, but dried currants are not easy to come by. Some of our favorite combinations have been lemon extract and dried blueberries, orange extract and dried cranberries, and vanilla extract and diced dried apricots.

The perfect topping to this tasty treat is the delicate addition of the crème fraiche. It takes the place of British clotted cream with a silkier texture. Crème fraiche literally makes itself on your counter, and the results couldn’t be dreamier! Pretty soon, you’ll be using crème fraiche in all sorts of recipes! I promise you’ll feel very accomplished in the kitchen and be forever grateful that you learned to make it.

Easy Scones*

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup room temperature butter

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup dried currants or raisins or any dried fruit (chocolate chips would be fun)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your favorite extract

Heat oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and use your hands (a fork, two butter knives, pastry blender) to break up the butter so that the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. We mostly use the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the eggs, heavy cream, extract, and dried fruit at once and stir until moistened. Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form it into a ball and with floured hands, gently press it into a round or square. You may need a rolling pin. For American sized scones, cut into 8 wedges or squares (cut outs are good too, but they bake faster). For traditional scones, cut into 16 wedges, round cut-outs, or squares. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Brush scones with milk or cream and dust with coarse sugar (optional). Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with crème fraiche and strawberry jam (lemon curd is amazing too). They freeze well.

Crème Fraiche**

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Combine the cream and the buttermilk and warm in the microwave or stove until lukewarm (not to exceed 90F or 32C). Pour the mixture onto a glass jar and cover lightly (so steam can escape). Let it stand at room temperature overnight (warm place – 70F) or all day (up to 24 hours) until it is has thickened. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for the flavor to develop and the crème to thicken even more. Before refrigerating, try stirring in vanilla beans (just a 1/4 teaspoon will do) for an over-the-top treat! If you’d like to try the crème sweetened, stir in powdered sugar to taste. Crème Fraiche is delicious in savory dishes too (no vanilla).

*Adapted from Home and Gardens New Baking Book

**Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson

with love. Damaris


Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake

We have a healthy relationship with honey in our household. It seems each time Nathan is working in the hives, the kids love to eat the raw honeycomb right off his tools. While this is their favorite way to indulge in our honey, perhaps a close second is this Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake.

The cast-iron skillet heating in the kitchen, butter sizzling as it melts, and an eggy batter being whisked can only mean a sweet homemade Dutch Baby Pancake is about to please. Its flavors are pure and simple. This recipe is made with a very simple batter poured over honeyed apples. Baked in a very hot oven until puffed up and golden, it serves up like a giant popover with a honey-butter glaze. A light sprinkling of cardamom adds warmth and an undeniable woody aroma. Since this Dutch Baby Pancake can be made in just a matter of minutes and bakes up quickly, you’ll enjoy more time to savor the silky bites and take your time at the table.

We have used seasonal fruits like peaches or pears with delightful renditions of this delicate Dutch Baby Pancake. When it’s done baking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the honey-glazed apple slices arranged like an upside-down cake. A sifting of powdered sugar adds just the touch of sophistication.

Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake*

  • 4 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 or 2 apples, cored and sliced into thin wedges

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup milk (any kind will do)

  • 1 cup flour (used whole wheat with delicious results)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • powdered sugar for dusting over the top

Heat the oven to 400F. Melt the butter in a 10 or 12 inch oven-safe skillet. When melted, add the apple slices and cook until soft and golden. Turn off the heat and stir in the cardamom and the honey. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, flour and salt. Pour over the hot cooked apples. Bake until puffed up and deep golden about 20 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a large plate or serve it up rustic -we do :). Dusting it with powdered sugar makes it extra special.

*This recipe was inspired by an old Martha Stewart cookbook I found 10 years ago at a garage sale : )

with love. Damaris


Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche): Instant Pot Simplified

Fun news! We were featured in the food blog EatLikeNoOneElse: A Foodie’s State Of Mind last week!! Our Zuppa Toscana recipe has been a big hit. Go check out Eric’s very comprehensive content on every ingredient you could ever think of. When I visit his site, I start by searching for a recipe and end up learning about the history of a Topaz apple! I think you’ll enjoy it too.

My memories of Arroz Con Leche stem from growing up in Spain, where it is one of the core desserts that graces every high-end and home cook’s table alike. My Yaya (mom’s mom) and my mom made it often, and it was my passion. Whenever I helped my Yaya with any cleaning or spent the day with her, she generously asked what could she make for me. I always asked for Arroz Con Leche (literally means rice with milk- or rice pudding). Turning her recipe into an Instant Pot success took many bowl-fulls served as breakfasts, snacks and desserts. All turned out good, except one try when Nathan said it tasted like macaroni and cheese- Hmmm.

This version of rice pudding is very simple with the basic ingredients that make Spanish Arroz Con Leche.

Simple Rice Pudding In the Instant Pot

  • 6 cups of whole milk (your choice of non-dairy works too)

  • 2 cups of water

  • 2 cups white short grain rice (long works fine too)

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 sticks of cinnamon

  • 1 lemon peel (not the peel of a whole lemon, only a 3 or 4 inch piece), optional

Add all the ingredients to the electric pressure cooker and whisk until sugar seems dissolved. Cover and set on Porridge function (or 20 minutes on high pressure if using another brand of electric pressure cooker). The Instant Pot takes a few minutes to reach pressure and automatically cooks for 20 minutes. Allow 20 minutes on low (after pressure cooking is complete), for delicious rice. We like it soft, so I allow it to slow release which takes about 40 minutes. Stir the rice pudding in the cooker before serving for more even texture and sweetness. If it seems dry for your liking, incorporate more milk when serving. This recipe can be cut in half with great results.

with love. Damaris


Maple-Pecan Granola

We’ve experimented with and enjoyed at least ummm….1,058 recipes of homemade granola! THIS one may be the best! It is the simplest granola to put together and absolutely scrumptious. It’s unpretentious, perfect balance of textures and crunch make it a winner in my book. It is just sweet enough to enjoy any time of the day.

We most often eat it like cereal – in a bowl with milk, but yogurt parfaits are delish too! Homemade granola is a staple when we go on vacation or camping because it is a no-prep, wholesome and gratifying breakfast. I love it when my friends inspire me! One friend of mine prefers her granola with milk and warmed in the microwave for a comforting breakfast with her morning coffee.

If you’re on the lookout for one of those recipes that can easily be made ahead and expanded for guests, this is perfect. I always make a double-batch of this granola when we have company overnight and serve a sweet bread loaf with butter on the side. When we go to a friend’s house for a playdate, or a neighbor is feeling under the weather, Eva and I jar up some, as well. It’s such an easy way to show gratefulness or extend practical hospitality. This crispy, golden granola looks beautifully delicious in a pint or quart mason jar with turns of red and white butcher twine and a hand-written tag! Enjoy and bless others!

Maple-Pecan Granola

  • 3 1/2 cups oats

  • 1/2 cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut (can be omitted)

  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts (can be omitted or substitute for sunflower seeds)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional- I can’t decide which is my favorite way -with or without)

  • grated zest of 1 orange or 1 tablespoon of orange peel

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup melted butter/coconut oil/ any other oil

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (substitute with dried cherries or dried blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line with parchment a large rimmed cookie sheet (10×15). In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the raisins. Stir until everything is well coated. Spread the mixture into a thin, even layer. Bake for 10 minutes and check to ensure even baking. May need to stir and add 5-10 more minutes. It burns quickly! Remove from the oven let cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

with love. Damaris


Holiday Bucket List

Is anyone else feeling behind on all the holiday stuff? Presents, decor, tree, wreaths, outdoor lights, cards, family pictures, BREATHE! But really, all we have to prepare for this Christmas is our hearts. Daily advent readings are such a cure for all the distressing about to-does! You can find readings for your simplified advent here.

When I begin to feel the overwhelm, I try to see it all thought the eyes of a child. When our hearts are full of wonder, it’s easier to delight in the small things – we enjoy what we already have and are more ready to share it with the loved ones that surround us! When we celebrate the simple things, we can find rest and even recharge during the holiday hullabaloo. Since I’m a list-maker extraordinaire, I’m sharing today our Christmas bucket list! We plan to enjoy these favorite activities during the school/work break of the holidays. Most of these we do every year and anticipate them for weeks, but some activities are new additions which may well become a special tradition. Here it goes… our holiday bucket list:

  1. playing board games with a mug of hot chocolate

  2. sleeping “under” the tree

  3. baking wheels of brie

  4. making bread loaves for all the neighbors on our road

  5. going to Panera for coffee and bagels

  6. making chocolate bread pudding

  7. trying our hand at a lattice apple pie

  8. eating croissants and chocolate for breakfast

  9. watching special Christmas movies

  10. baking and frosting cut-out sugar cookies (recipe in an upcoming post!)

  11. Cracker Barrel brunch and sitting by the fire to play checkers with Dad

  12. making monkey bread

  13. Christmas caroling at neighbors’

  14. making cream puffs

  15. taking the kids treasure hunting at a nearby antique mall

  16. enjoying huge cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning

There you have it! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

with love. Damaris


A Slow-Down Ritual

The flavors of Saturday mornings are pure and simple. The aroma of coffee brewing beckons, and that’s just the beginning. Sliced juicy strawberries in the summer or aromatic oranges in the winter, sweet smells fill the kitchen. Always to the tunes of Celtic music.

I enjoy eating Saturday’s morning meal without ever getting out of my pajamas. It also happens to be the only breakfast in the week that we can eat together without a rush. Since we don’t do school in the summers, Nathan is gone to work before we’re up and going (we pack his breakfast and lunch). Of course, you already know that Sunday mornings are pretty fast paced around here (you can read about it). So Saturday mornings are reserved for a little lingering, a silky scramble of many eggs and bacon sizzling on the skillet.

The aroma of spice and vanilla inspires me to revel in the comforting slow home, and make some joyful noise in the kitchen. Sometimes I call upstairs for a helper, and sometimes I just surprise them! Everybody likes to wake up to the music of eggs cracking, batter hissing at the griddle, and of course that heavenly smell of frying bacon! Major disclosure: If Nathan is going to cook up a meal, Saturday morning is the best! His delicious French doughnuts can’t be but devoured in two bites, although I think he’d prefer us to take our time and savor the luscious crumbs.

Teetering stacks of steaming pancakes, thick slabs of French toast, maple drenched golden waffles, and Dutch babies all puffed up are some of the deliciousness enjoyed with a couple cups of coffee and frothed cream. We serve all the sleepy-heads. We cut soft pats of sweet butter. We spread, drizzle, and fuss about how much maple syrup a couple of the children used! Sure we’re fond of our maple syrup, but allowing it to cascade until the pool reaches the rim of your breakfast plate may be too much!

We relish at the table and talk about our day – long mornings when we must slow down. After we eat, while we sit with empty plates, Nathan reads and speaks God’s Truth into our minds and hearts.

I have been tempted many a times over the years to give it up – to trade the slow for the simple, the traditional for the convenient. But I refuse to let go! I am the happiest when my people are gathered, and they’re being filled with my love.

This is our way, and I plan to hold on to it for a long, long time.

What do you enjoy on Saturday mornings?

with love. Damaris


Oatmeal Cookies For Breakfast, You Say?

Sunday mornings are pretty harried at our house. The whole family has to be out the door, fed, washed, brushed, and look’n good – no exceptions! Although I don’t want Sunday mornings to be rushed, there is no avoiding it. Even if church clothes have been picked out and ironed, unavoidably, four girls need braids, baby needs nursed, and somehow we can never remember which pair of shoes we wear on Sundays – ugh! Needless to say, this baked oatmeal recipe has saved my Sunday morning sanity!

I enjoy serving a substantial breakfast – something that is filling and also feels special. We prepare it as early as Thursday, keep it covered in the fridge, and bake it while we get ready Sunday morning. I had never heard of baked oatmeal before, but I stumbled upon it while searching for gluten-free breakfast options a few years ago. The recipe description read, “It tastes like an oatmeal cookie,” and I knew we had to try it! After making it a couple of times, I realized that it could easily be assembled a few days before hand – anything that can be assembled in advance has my name written all over it! It’s been eight years since my gluten-free recipe search, and we still absolutely love it! We like to eat it piping hot out of the oven with a little milk poured over it in our bowls. There was never a breakfast so nurturing and wholesome that tasted so good!

It’s hands down THE MOST flexible recipe. One less egg or one more, buttermilk, almond milk or coconut milk, or any kind of sweetener, this baked oatmeal is always beautiful out of the oven! Our all-time family favorite is baked oatmeal with frozen cherries. It’s close runner-up is frozen blueberries (fresh ones don’t last long enough around here, but would work well). We’ve enjoyed it with frozen strawberries or peaches too! Raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans are some add-ons we’ve used again and again.

It’s fabulously gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free (great with maple syrup instead of brown sugar)!! Please tell us how you like it!

photo credit: Alexander

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 eggs

  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter

  • 2 cups milk (any kind)

  • 1 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

  • 6 cups rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 to 2 cups of add-ons (frozen fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, chopped nuts)

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until incorporated. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread the mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set in the middle.

with love. Damaris