Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet Sourdough Bread

This is a recipe for a sweet sourdough starter. You can keep it in your fridge and it makes a really nice loaf of bread. It is a little more work than my Easy Peasy Bread, but it’s nice for a change. And if I don’t have time to make the loaf, the chickens think it is a super special treat! :o)

2 cups flour

2 cups warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast

Mix in a plastic or glass container, loosely cover and let stand overnight in a warm place. Store in fridge and stir every day.

On the 5th day, add 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir well and let sit out for several hours before placing back in fridge.

On the 10th day, remove the needed amount of starter for your recipe and add 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir well, let sit out for several hours before placing back in fridge.


Remove 2 cups of starter and place in a large bowl. Let sit in a warm place until it comes to room temperature. (I put mine in a warm oven. Turn oven to 170 for 5 minutes and then turn off)

Then add 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of oil.

Add about 3 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well and then knead on floured surface for about 10-15 minutes. Add more flour if needed to make a nice, not-sticky dough.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2-4 hours, or until doubled in bulk. (I do the same oven trick when the house is cool)

Knead again on floured board for about 10 minutes.

Place in greased bread pan. Cover with towel and let rise for one hour in a warm place. (Yes, the oven trick works here too!)

Turn oven to 375 and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

bread 01

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chili & Cornbread

About 15 years ago I baked cute little cakes in widemouth canning jars for Christmas presents. About a month ago I began to have the urge to bake things in canning jars again. The first experiment: chili and cornbread.

chili in jars 01

All I did was heat up some of my homemade Crock-pot Chili in a saucepan and spoon it into some pint-sized wide mouthed canning jars. But you can use any chili you like…

chili in jars 02 Then top the chili with a bit of shredded cheese.

Mix up a batch of cornbread. My favorite is Jiffy corn muffin mix! I have never found a recipe for scratch corn bread that I like as much as Jiffy…

Top each jar of chili with some corn bread batter.

chili in jars 03 Place jars on a baking sheet and bake at 375 until corn bread is golden brown. About 12-15 minutes.

chili in jars 04 WARNING! These jars will be VERY HOT! Let them cool a bit before serving.

My other favorite part of chili & cornbread is that the jars fit perfectly on my can lid coasters!

chili in jars 05

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Bake Granola Bars

I made these for our trip to Disneyland in January and we really enjoyed them! They are a bit crumbly but really tasty just the same.

1 1/4 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup quick oats

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds or flax seeds

1/4 cup dried fruit or mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup honey or brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

Melt peanut butter and honey (or rice syrup) in a small saucepan or in microwave until well-blended. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. You may need to use your hands to make sure everything is well coated.

Press into an 8” pan that has been greased well.

Cool on baking rack and chill for at least 30 minutes to set.

Cut into bars and wrap in plastic wrap. Store bars in fridge.

cliff bars 01 cliff bars 02 cliff bars 03

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cashew Chicken

We love Chinese food! We have been eating so much of it that I have been buying chopsticks and take out boxes at the restaurant supply store! Yes, it is more fun to eat out of take out boxes! :o) So, here is my version of cashew chicken… I’m pretty proud of it!

1 egg white

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 pound cubed chicken breast (boneless, skinless)

Mix egg white, cornstarch and soy sauce. Add chicken and stir to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.

Prep veggies and sauce while chicken sits.


1/4 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon soy sauce


1/2 cup onion, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 carrots, sliced

2-3 ribs celery, sliced

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 cup whole cashews

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Drain chicken in strainer. Heat 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil in large skillet. Stir fry chicken until it turns white. Add veggies and stir-fry until chicken is cooked through and veggies are crisp-tender. Add cashews and water chestnuts. Cook until chestnuts are heated through. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Stir fry for about 30 seconds.

cashew chicken 01 Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour into stir-fry. Stir until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

cashew chicken 02

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

In honor of National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, I made one for the very first time! I’ve always thought about making one. In fact I’ve always wanted to but just never did. I love the way they look and there is something sort of nostalgic and 1950s about a pineapple upside down cake. So you would think they’d be like my favorite cake to make… Maybe they will be???

So here’s my recipe in honor of the day!

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon water

Mix together and pour into the bottom of a greased 9” cake pan. Top with slices of canned pineapple and maraschino cherries.

upside down cake 02


1 1/3 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup softened butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low until combined. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

upside down cake 01

Carefully spoon batter into cake pan.

upside down cake 03

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or till pick comes out clean.

Let cool on rack for 5 minutes and then invert onto serving plate. Serve warm.

upside down cake 04

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vanilla Extract

I made my own vanilla extract! I’ve actually been saving a cute bottle for almost a year for just such a purpose. :o)  It was so easy that I wish I had done it sooner.

Start with a bottle of 80 to 100 proof vodka. I’ve heard you can even go higher proof than that. But only if you can get it in your state…

vanilla 04

Then you’ll need vanilla beans. Use 3 beans for every cup of vodka.

Split the beans in half with a sharp knife to about 1-2 inches from top.

vanilla 03Place split beans in a quart canning jar and pour vodka over beans.

vanilla 05Let stand in a cool dark place for at least 2 months.

vanilla 06It will darken in about a day…

vanilla 07After about 2 months it will be ready to use. Vanilla will stay good for years, stored in a cool dry place.

When mine was ready I placed a few of the beans in my cute little bottle and poured in the vanilla.

vanilla 01vanilla 024-8-11 022     Now you’re all ready to do your baking!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coconut Lime Cottage Cheese Pie

This is a combination of a few recipes I’ve seen and a recipe that was given to me by a friend from church. The result was pretty satisfying! It has a nice blend of flavors and is cool and refreshing. I think it would be just lovely on a hot summer evening… Or as a dessert following a spicy Mexican dish!


1 cup flour

1/2 cup coconut

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine ingredients to form the crust. You can use a pastry blender, mixer or food processor.

cheesecake 01Then press into a 9” pie plate and set aside.

cheesecake 02Filling:

cheesecake 031 3/4 cups cottage cheese

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lime juice

zest of one lime

Put cottage cheese in blender and blend until perfectly smooth. The trick is to blend it until it is very smooth with no lumps.

cheesecake 04Add remaining ingredients and blend until well mixed.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 325 for 45 minutes or until center is set.

cheesecake 05


1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons sugar

Mix in a small bowl and put on top of the back of the stove where it is warm while the pie is baking.

cheesecake 06

After removing pie from oven, gently spread topping over pie and bake for another 10 minutes.

   cheesecake 07Place on wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Keep in fridge until cool and set.

cheesecake 08  Store any leftovers in fridge.

cheesecake 09

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sweet Anna’s Quick & Easy Truffles

This recipe from Sweet Anna’s blog is just as quick and easy and she said it was! I love the rustic look and the smooth dark chocolate… All you need is heavy cream, butter, chocolate chips (I used extra dark) and cocoa. And there are so many possibilities for these candies with a myriad of extracts and liquors to choose from!

So check out the recipe HERE at Sweet Anna’

truffles 01

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Flower Pot Mud Pie

I hadn’t made this in a while and decided it was the ideal dessert for our April Fool’s Day Craft Nite potluck! I was so so right! It turned out FANTASTIC! The secret… real whipped cream. You can use Cool Whip, but you really don’t want to… :o)

Crush up chocolate sandwich cookies in your food processor to make the “dirt”. You don’t even need to remove the filling. Just process the heck out of them and they’ll look just like potting soil.

mud pie 03

mud pie 04Then make your filling.

mud pie 01

First whip 1 cup of whipping cream until thick. Stir together 4 Tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon of instant clear gel (to stabilize cream). Add to whipped cream along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until very thick. *You can also use an 8oz tub of whipped topping.

Cream 4 oz softened cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix until smooth

Beat 1 3/4 cups milk with one 3 oz box of chocolate instant pudding mix until thick.

Mix together the pudding and cream cheese mixture.

Fold in whipped cream.

mud pie 07mud pie 08Now begin to layer the mud pie into a small plastic flowerpot (be sure to clean it well before using). First place a piece of parchment, wax paper or plastic wrap in the bottom of the pot.

mud pie 02Cover with some of your cookie crumbs.

mud pie 06Top with some of the filling

mud pie 09Sprinkle with more cookie crumbs. Continue to layer, ending with crumbs on top.

mud pie 10Stick a bunch of artificial flowers (be sure to clean these, too) into the pot for a fun finished look. You can also throw in some gummy worms for fun!

mud pie 11Store in the fridge until ready to serve. This is best if not made too much in advance.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Sushi

I first saw this idea over 10 years ago in a magazine and I finally got around to doing it… I thought it would be a super fun treat for April Fool’s Day!

I’ll warn you now that it is not the yummiest thing I’ve ever made, and it is quite tedious and time-consuming but it is worth it. Even my three teenage boys think they are pretty cool!

First make a batch of Rice Krispie treats:

6 cups rice cereal

40 marshmallows

2 Tablespoons butter

Melt butter and marshmallows together. Stir in cereal. Pat into a thin layer in a buttered pan.

Then take gummy worms and roll them carefully with the rice krispie treats. Cut the roll off the sheet of cookie.

sushi 01Wrap one end with a piece of fruit roll up (Fruit by the Foot works best, especially green ones!). Then cut it off.

sushi 02sushi 03Lay them cut side up on a plate to serve.

sushi 04You can also lay Swedish fish on a small piece of cookie and wrap it with a thin strip of fruit roll for a second variation.

sushi 05sushi 06    

Place on serving plate with a dipping sauce of Hershey’s syrup (Andy claims it isn’t that bad together).

sushi 07