Friday, October 31, 2008

Cake Mix Cookies

My friend Misty gave me this recipe when we lived in Arizona. You can make them with just about any kind of cake mix or with any kind of stir-in. But our favorite is always yellow cake mix with M&Ms. Even after all these years, Zack still told me today that they were "awesome"! Thanks Misty!
Preheat oven to 350.

Mix 1 box cake mix, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 2 eggs. Stir in whatever you would like or nothing at all.

Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until very edges are slightly brown.

Remove and let cool on racks or wax paper.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Seeds

I have only made toasted pumpkin seeds once, and it was not good. But Zack had them the past two years at Youth Group and really wanted them again this year. So, I got on AllRecipes to see what I could find. I found a recipe for some sweet sugary ones that sounded so good that I had to try it. And they were good! If you haven't carved pumpkins yet, I would suggest trying this one for sure.

Caution! They are addictive!

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a combo of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 275-300 degrees F (120 degrees C). Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dry and toasted. Larger seeds may take longer. Or they may toast sooner.

In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of white sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar over them. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts. Pour seeds into the bowl with the spiced sugar and stir until coated. Allow to cool before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cranberry Pork Roast

This is one of my favorite dishes to make around the holidays. It is especially nice for company around Christmas. It is extra nice because you can just pop it in the crock-pot for an easy to prepare supper. Serve the meat with the sauce on top and with sides of stuffing and vegetables.

Place 1 boneless pork roast in crock pot.

1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground or yellow mustard

Mix together with wire whisk. Pour over pork roast. Cook on low heat 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

When roast is done, remove it from crock pot. Strain the cooking liquid and put into saucepan. Make a paste of cold water and cornstarch. Slowly add to saucepan of cooking liquid, heating over medium heat. Whisk until thick and bubbly. Serve sauce over meat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crab Quiche

After going crabbing, the boys decided they wanted crab omelets. But since I wasn't interested in using 2 dozen eggs and spending 2 hours making them, I decided quiche would be almost the same thing.

So, I got a recipe from AllRecipes and altered it a bit. It was pretty good and I'll probably make it again since we have quite a bit more crab.

1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (any blend will do)
1/2 pound or more of imitation or real crabmeat (I used real)
1 pinch ground black pepper

Old Bay seasoning (to taste)

1/4 cup sliced green onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sour cream and cornstarch. Stir in the cheese, crabmeat, green onion and seasonings. Pour into the pie shell.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly and serve.

What's For Supper

Recently, I have had people ask me about my menu plan. People notice it because I write down all the meals for the day on a blackboard in the dining room after supper the night before. So I thought I would share it on my blog.

I had a menu plan when we were first married and the boys were little. But for some reason, over time, I quit doing a menu.

Almost 2 years ago, my friend Deborah remarked about her menu planning and how much it helped her. So I decided to revive it again.

I forgot how much I like having a menu. I no longer spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME (3 times a day) wondering what I should make for a meal or looking in the fridge or pantry to see what I can make.

A friend asked me what I do if I don't feel like eating what I have planned for the day. It doesn't happen. Somehow I always feel like eating what I know we are having that day.

It takes a little more work ahead of time, but it is worth the stress and hassle I was going through every day. Writing it on a menu board also assures (most of the time) that I know what to take out of the freezer in time for it to thaw ahead of time. The menu board also cuts down on the incessant question of "Mom, what's for _______________?" :o)

Oh, it is also good for our budget because we have a LOT fewer days when we have to go out to the grocery store for something or out to eat because there isn't anything.

Ok, so here's what I do...

1. write out all of the days and meals for about 2 weeks at a time in a notebook (Day of the week followed by the date)

2. fill out all of the meals that are the same (ie: every Sunday morning is cereal and supper is Family Nite)

3. look at the calendar to see what is going on in our family. I schedule meals that are appropriate to the activities of the day. Busy days often get a crock pot or convenience meal. Nicer or larger suppers are planned for when we have company. Etc.

4. fill out all the meals

5. make out a grocery list to make sure I have everything we need to make the scheduled meals plus any staples we need. I also include snack and dessert items on my list.

Here's what a page of my plan looks like...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Waikiki Sauce

This sauce was orginally made for meatballs and was my favorite supper for years. But this sweet sauce is good on cooked sliced sausages, chicken, or meatballs. Serve over white rice. I use the extra pineapple chunks to make a fruit salad with mandarin oranges and fresh pear, banana or apple (or all 3) to serve as a side.

This makes a quick easy supper.

1 can pineapple chunks, drained and reserve juice in bowl

Add to juice:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp corn starch

1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (opt.) , use more or less to taste

Mix well with whisk. Pour over cooked meat, chopped green pepper and pineapple chunks in skillet and cook until thick and bubbly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caramel Apple Dip

This dip is so good with crisp sliced apples, but goes well with other fruits, too.

Thanks Renee, for helping me remember what the recipe was (for sure). My memory wasn't good as I had hoped.

1 8oz cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugars and vanilla. Beat until well mixed and smooth.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sausage Sauerkraut Bake

I love this dish, but no one else in my family will eat it! :o( So, I make it for the church potlucks in the fall. Last fall I was the last in line and it was already gone by the time I got there. This year, I made sure I was closer to the front of the line!

1- 24oz jar sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

4 sliced smoked sausage links

1/3 cup brown sugar (use more or less to taste)

1/4 cup raisins

Stir together and bake at 350 until heated through.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Better Than Box Brownies

I love brownies from a boxed mix! But I love this recipe for brownies from scratch even more! This recipe is my mom’s standby and she’s been making them since I was in Jr High. These brownies are a cross between a science experiment and a magic trick. Somehow you add two powders, one oil and some boiling water and instead of getting thinner it gets thicker as you stir! I have no idea how that works but I still think it’s pretty cool to watch even now that I’m over 40…
What I like best about them is they are so easy to make and turn out perfect every time. (If I don't burn them) They are chewy and rich! I've made them with melted butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil. All are wonderful! Throw in a handful of chocolate chips, swirl in dollops of peanut butter before baking and they are even better!

Better Than Box Brownies - The Backyard Farmwife

3/4 cup baking cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup oil

1/2 cup boiling water

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

Stir together cocoa and soda. Add 1/3 cup oil. Stir in boiling water until thick. Add remaining 1/3 cup oil, eggs, and sugar. Then add flour, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
Better Than Box Brownies - The Backyard Farmwife For an extra special treat, top it with ice cream & chocolate syrup!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Strawberry Butter Spread

We love this spread for pancakes, waffles and french toast. You can also make it with other kinds of jam, but strawberry is our favorite.

Soften 1 cube of butter on the counter.

Place in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Mix in 3 oz canola oil until smooth (mixture will be thin).

Mix in 1/2 cup jam and 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt.

Beat until well mixed.

Pour into glass or plastic container and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Spreadable Butter

I love making this butter spread. Not only is it easier to spread, but makes the butter last much longer.

Soften 1 cup of butter on counter.

Place in bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Beat in 3/4 cup of canola oil. Beat in 1/2 of the oil at a time, making sure the butter is very smooth. (it will be very thin)

Pour into plastic container and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Take out a few minutes before using to let it soften for easier spreading.

Amish Friendship Bread

pumpkin with strusel topping

butterscotch bread

top: banana

bottom: cranberry orange

Over the years I have received a starter for this bread many times. Eventually I get tired of it, or my friends don't want one anymore, and I end up throwing it away.

Now I have figured out a way to make it just for me, and learned from my friend Rebekah that you can freeze the starter when you need a break for a couple of months. You can freeze the starter at any point, just remember what day you left off on for when you take it back out again.

Day 1-5: Squeeze bag of starter several times until batter is well mixed.

Day 6: Add 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup milk. Squeeze bag well to mix.

Day 7-9: Squeeze bag of starter several times until batter is well mixed.

Day 10: Add 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup milk. Squeeze bag well to mix.

Take out 1 cup of starter and place in a new ziploc bag for your next batch.

Place remaining starter in a large glass or plastic bowl.

Preheat oven to 325.

Add each ingredient in order, stirring after each, to make sure batter is smooth. Use a wooden or plastic spoon only.

1 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 small boxes or 1 large box of vanilla pudding

Grease 2 bread pans (metal pans are fine). Sprinkle the pans with sugar. Pour in batter. Bake at 325 for about one hour (or until golden brown and tester comes out clean).

Variations (our favorite ones)

*Use butterscotch pudding instead of vanilla.

*Use banana pudding and add 2 mashed bananas.

*Use lemon pudding, 3 tbsp poppy seeds (omit cinnamon), and 1 tbsp lemon zest.

*Add one cup dried cranberries, 1 tbsp orange zest, and 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional).

*stir in 1/2 cup of pumpkin, 1/2 tsp cinnamom, 1/4 tsp ginger and nutmeg

All Fruit Smoothies

These smoothies make a great snack or breakfast. They are made of all fruit with a bit of yogurt.

Freeze ripe bananas by unpeeling them, wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing in the freezer until frozen hard.

Break up frozen bananas and place in blender.

Add frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries...or any combination of them).

Pour in orange juice to cover.

Spoon in about 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt.

Let sit in blender for about 5 minutes.

Blend on high until smooth. Add more juice if neccessary.

Baked French Toast

This french toast is just like a combination of a caramel sticky bun and bread pudding. It is our favorite breakfast of all time and is a regular for company breakfast. Make it the night before and it is ready to just pop in the oven in the morning.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a glass 9x13 baking dish in the microwave.

Generously sprinkle the pan with brown sugar. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Fill the pan with thick slices of Italian bread. Pack them in tightly.

Beat 3 eggs, 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla.

Pour egg mixture over bread, making sure the tops of every piece is wet. The pan will have egg mixture sitting in the bottom.

Cover and chill overnight.

Remove from fridge for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350.

Bake until the sugar is bubbly and the top of the bread is dry. About 40 minutes or so.

Serve immediately. Place with the sticky side up on a plate.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oven-Fried Chicken

This is a great way to cook up inexpensive chicken legs, but is also good with boneless breasts.

Crush 1 box of chicken stuffing mix in a bag using a mallet or rolling pin.

Roll chicken legs in melted butter and then in the stuffing crumbs. Make sure they are well coated.

Place in baking pan.

Drizzle with remaining melted butter.

Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes until they reach 165 or are no longer pink. (you will need to adjust the time for breasts)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

These little gems are the perfect side with a huge pot of homemade soup!

2 cups flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

Mix dry ingredients well.


1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup real bacon bits

Cut in

1/4 cup butter, margarine or shortening

Stir in

1 cup milk

Drop onto greased baking sheet and bake at 450 until golden brown on the edges.

Brush with melted butter. Place back in oven for 3 minutes.

Serve hot.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Refridgerator Pickles

I make these pickles quite often and they are always a huge hit whenever I serve them. A batch rarely lasts more than a few days, but they can be kept in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

6 cups thinly sliced cucumbers

1 cup thinly sliced onion

Place into a plastic container.

2 cups sugar

1 cup vinegar

1 tsp mustard seed

1 tsp celery seed

1 Tbsp salt

Bring brine to a full boil on medium heat. Pour over cucumbers in plastic bowl. Let cool to room temperature on counter. Cover with lid and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let chill for at least overnight before eating.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Instant Oatmeal

This is a great recipe for instant oatmeal. It is so easy for a quick, hot breakfast. The boys love it and can make it themselves.

Take one cup quick oats and blend on high in a blender or food processor until powdery. Mix with 2 cups of plain quick oats and 1 tsp salt.

Add any one or more of the following to make flavored oatmeal:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 - 1 cup dried fruit
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Pour desired amount into a bowl. Add boiling water until it is the desired consistency.
from left to right: raisin & spice, cinnamon & spice, apples & cinnamon

Harvest Applesauce

The easiest way to make applesauce is in your Crock Pot. And it's even easier if you have a food mill.

Just fill your crock pot with quartered apples that have been peeled and cored. (if you have a food mill you don't even have to peel or core them)

If you want to keep them from turning too brown, add a bit of lemon juice to the apples.

Turn them on high and let them cook until they are very soft.

At this point you can mash them in the crock pot with a potato masher or run them through the food mill over a large bowl.

You can add sugar and/or cinnamon if so desired.

My favorite is brown sugar and cinnamon.

You may can the applesauce in a boiling water bath or freeze.

I love making applesauce because it makes my whole house smell so much like fall!

Pork Stuffing Casserole

(this is so nice for a fall supper, but you could use chicken instead of pork)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan.

Prepare a box of pork (or chicken) stuffing mix according to the package directions.

Layer cooked meat, chopped summer squash, frozen broccoli (thawed), and the stuffing in two layers in the baking dish (putting half of the stuffing on top of the casserole).

Mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup with 3/4 cup milk. Pour over top of casserole.

Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Freezer Apple Pie Filling

Sometimes it's nice to have something on hand for a last minute or busy night dessert. This freezer apple pie filling is just the thing.

6 lbs chopped and peeled apples

Place into a large stockpot. Toss with 2 Tbsp lemon juice.

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix well in a small bowl and pour over apples. Mix well to coat.

Let sit for 30 minutes - until juices flow.

Cook over medium heat until thick.

Cool for no more than 2 hours.

Pour into freezer containers and freeze.

Works well for pies, crisps, cobblers, or coffee cakes!


I love granola for breakfast! Especially with vanilla yogurt and berries, layered into a parfait. This granola is easy and so yummy! It keeps well in the freezer. You can make just a half a batch.

6 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup powdered milk

Mix together in a large bowl.

2/3 cup honey (or maple syrup, any kind)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp water
2/3 cup oil

Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Mix well and pour into bowl of dry ingredients. Coat well.

Pour into 2 9x13 pans.

Bake at 300 for 25-35 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown.

Cool, stirring occasionally to break up the granola.

Add dried fruit.

Store in airtight container. Freeze for longer storage.

plain and cranberry-almond granolas