Cranberry Scones for Thanksgiving with Tips from a Bed ‘n Breakfast Baker

  • Here’s a cranberry scone recipe from I really like that might work well for Thanksgiving…
    Some things I’ve learned about making scones: They’re similar to making pie crust……if butter is ice cold you get better results. I start by cutting the butter into chunks and sticking it in the freezer a half hour before I need it. Also liquids need to be very cold…..leave in the fridge until you’re ready to use. Handle dough as little as possible. And when they are on the cookie sheet ready to go into the oven, put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the gluten settle….whatever that means. I think once you find the scone recipe that you like, stick to it and do variations on that recipe… lemon blueberry or apple cinnamon, etc. Keep the basic ingredients the same until you have enough experience with them and you feel more comfortable trying different recipes.

    They are definitely best made the morning you want to serve them and they really are quick to make once you know how to do it.

Home Made Gluten-free Granola a la Hilltop House!

Here is a recipe for Gluten Free Granola that I adapted from Chowhound. I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free oatmeal to make mine. It’s pretty incredible how easy this granola is to make and how much better it is made fresh than from a box on the grocery shelf. I find locally made, very tasty granola in nice packaging, but if, like me, you’re serving it often and you know, one of those Bs in B&B stands for (complimentary) breakfast, it’s prohibitive to buy all done up. OatsGranola is a great option for guests that need or want to eat gluten free. Here are the changes I make to create my healthy version

3 cups gluten-free oats
3 Tbsps. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. maple extract
1/2 cup diced dried fruits (cranberries, apricots, cherries)
1/2 cup nuts and or seeds (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
Heat oven to 300 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nuts and/or seeds in a bowl. Mix together and set aside. Combine the melted coconut oil (they say to eat a teaspoon a day for health!), syrup and extracts in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add to dry ingredients and stir until oats are thorougluOatghly coated.
Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, Stir and bake for 5-15 minutes longer until golden brown. Remove from oven, add dried fruit and let cool still in that thin layer.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

This recipe is the best I’ve had and my guests agree.  Here’s the original recipe, fyi.

***Make sure that if your serving someone with celiac disease or have a high sensitivity to gluten that all your ingredients are indeed gluten free.





Baking mixes have their place in this world, just not in MY pantry or kitchen : ) This is a true kitchen story of how I came to conquer gluten-free pancakes—

2 Gluten-free pancakes on a plate with all the best ingredients including Red Mill Almond Flour

The best baking requires the best ingredients. No getting around it

As a little girl I would watch my mother bake and she would always tell me “Sandy, use the best, the highest quality ingredients you can find.” She would bake for church dinners and everyone would ask for the recipe. Inevitably “everyone” would bake that recipe and use cheap ingredients to save money, i.e. margarine in place of butter etc., and then ask Mom why theirs didn’t come out as wonderful and delicious as hers? LOL!

So it has become my mantra that if you’re going to take the time to bake something for someone, use the very best ingredients you can find or don’t bake at all. Just go buy something at the store or bakery.

Then came the new challenge. GLUTEN FREE.  Because I am new to the whole gluten free thing, up until now, I’ve resorted to using the gluten free mixes because if you’ve experimented in gluten free baking at all, you know that it’s wildly expensive, considering all the special ingredients that are typically used like arrowroot, xanthum gum, and potato starch to name a few. And P.S. the gluten free mixes taste like a yellow cake mix. Sorry, but yuck.

Package of Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour So I’ve started with pancakes since they are the most requested breakfast dish here. I was determined to find a scratch pancake recipe that didn’t involve all those special ingredients. I wanted fast and simple. Ok, listen closely:  ALMOMD FLOUR! (chorus) All I can say is WOW! I wish I’d found you four years ago.

So here is my twist on the best of pancakes. Believe me, you won’t even know they’re gluten free:


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 TBSP ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1/2 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP baking powder
  • zest from one full orange
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt two TBSPs butter.
  3. Beat eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk in milk and butter.
  5. Add orange zest and mix.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  7. Stir in pecans.
  8. Cook on lightly greased griddle until edges look dry, then flip and cook for one or more minute until browned.
  9. Serve with pure maple syrup and…
  10. Watch your gluten-free guests’ eyes light up!

As American as Maple Syrup

I recently heard a radio interview of an author who’d just written a book about maple sugaring. That’s a topic near and dear to B&B owners in the Northeast given a propensity for pancakes and French toast. Here are some of the interesting things I gleaned.

  • Maple is one of the few truly North American flavors. Maple does not come from other sectors of the world.
  • 75% to 80% of the world’s Maple Syrup comes from Canada, primarily Quebec. (Just imaging their national flag with that dominant maple leaf.)
  • The rest—1.32 million gallons– comes from the U.S.—Vermont being the #1 producer, followed by New York, Maine, Ohio and Wisconsin.
  • There is a new Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, called “the OPEC of maple syrup,” and maintains a “global strategic syrup reserve” containing tens of thousands of barrels of maple syrup. Canada in fact, sets pricing of Maple Syrup and is moving to change the labeling of grades
  • The bulk price for Maple Syrup has increased by 89% since 2000.

That’s a bummer. Unfortunately anything that good seems susceptible to getting roped in, controlled, doled out and makes me want to move into a grove of maple trees and make my own. But…

  •  It takes 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Or about one tree yielding a pint of syrup.

One of my friends was diagnosed with a kind of “fatigue syndrome” some years back and her nutritionist took her off all white foods—flour, sugar, pasta, rice—and told her to use only maple syrup as a sweetener. She got better, and she got very inventive with her maple sweetening. True maple doesn’t cause those spikes in glucose levels like most other sugars.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with artificial maple syrup of the Log Cabin type, which is mainly high fructose corn with maple flavoring. After this frigid winter, the maple season is not projected to be that great. The sap has yet to flow steadily—to do that, it must maintain 40 degrees in daytime, 20 degrees at night—and the weather doesn’t make it likely that pricing will get better. The narrow window of time between ideal sugaring weather and the budding of the maple leaves, which detracts from the flavor of the syrup, can get reduced greatly in a year of late storms like 2014.

Down the road in Dover, Madava Farms, the home of Crown Maple Syrup, opened as we reported back with our Red Chair sagas; their website touts 100% Certified Organic Maple Syrup.  It’s a remarkable operation; the site is worth checking out. MapleFactory


Here’s a quote from their site: “Visit Madava Farms on weekends to sample the week’s fresh cuttings for lunch in our selection of fresh sandwiches, grilled panini, composed salads, hearty soups, maple baked goods and specialty desserts.” They’re open 11am to 5pm most Saturdays and Sundays.

Oh, and by the way, it is officially spring in this hemisphere. Will someone tell the Big Guy?