Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cranberry Coffee Cake

Do you have any leftover cranberries or cranberry sauce?  It would be great in this coffee cake for breakfast.  Not the stuff out of the can, though…sorry…may have to let that sauce go.  You can use fresh cranberries in this or you can reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup and use cranberry sauce.  Yum.  My younger daughter loves peering in the oven when something is baking and consistently jumps with delight over coffee cake.  How can you not?  It’s just cake for breakfast.  We dress it up with streusel instead of frosting, but it’s the same thing.  (Consider muffins…cupcakes without frosting?)


Cranberry Coffee Cake (Printable recipe here)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt (preferrably Greek and vanilla or one or the other)
1 cup cranberries (or cranberry sauce – please reduce yogurt by 1/4 cup if using sauce)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oatmeal
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix streusel ingredients, set aside.
Whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt).  Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
Add eggs, one at a time.
Beat in yogurt, mix well.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Stir in 1/2 cup cranberries.
Pour half batter in a greased 9×13″ pan.  Top with 1/2 cup cranberries and 1/2 streusel topping.  Top with remaining batter and remaining streusel.  
The batter will need to spread thin, but will bake up thick.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool about 10 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!



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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Breakfast (any time of day)


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Happy Thanksgiving

What will be on your dinner table?  What must be there?  Is there a special recipe?  It’s my mom’s stuffing around here.  This year I modified it by making a bunch of different homemade breads as the base, but I count on her stuffing.  This year, my oldest daughter was even really excited about there being stuffing.  But my kids have never been mashed potato kids…that’s my other one.  Turkey, of course, some cranberries, sweet potatoes in some form and a vegetable – green beans, ideally.  That’s my list.  What’s on yours?  I’ll share some  of my recipes in the next few days.

Who will be at your table?  Over the years, the tradition of who will be at the table has evolved.  Growing up, it was family.  It was all of my family and it was wonderful.  We were mostly local and could all gather around a large table (and a side table).  My aunt brought pies and everyone contributed their pieces.  Slowly, we transitioned to having friends.  Now that family is more dispersed, we enjoy our time with friends.  Whoever you are with, whatever you are eating, I hope you can take a moment and be truly thankful.

Thankful for family, for friends, for a roof, for food, for those close and those far, who are sacrificing in their own way.  And, are you thankful for Jesus?  Are you thankful for his sacrifice?  Do you know him and are thankful for His faithfulness to us?

Remember this child’s prayer, come as a child to Him and invite Him to Thanksgiving:

Come Lord Jesus, Be our Guest

Let thy gifts to us be blessed.  Amen.

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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Kitchen Notes


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Homemade (from scratch) Chicken and Rice Soup

Homemade soup intimidated me for a long time, especially making your own stock.  It seemed much easier to just buy chicken bouillon cubes at the store.  I can’t recall why exactly I started reading about making my own stock but I was impressed by the nutritional value.  The idea that we should eat chicken soup when we’re sick is less about a red can of processed soup and is really rooted    in the original soup making, homemade stock and all.  Stock is nothing more than water and stuff simmered for hours.  In this case, it’s chicken bones, onions, spices, carrots and some spinach.  For vegetable stock, it’s lots of vegetables.  By simmering the bones, you release all kinds of nutrients in the marrow.  And with the vegetables, you know how folks say not to overcook vegetables because they lose all their nutrients?  Well, you probably lose some in temperature, but most in the liquid.  So now, that stock is PACKED with nutrients.  So stock is easy – time consuming, but easy.

I recently discovered the easiest method yet of cooking a whole chicken.  Now, buying a whole chicken is the most economical way to eat chicken, not always the most convenient, but definitely the most economical.   Different methods have different flavors and textures, but if your goal is cooked and tender chicken, pull out your crock pot.

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If you can plan ahead, start first thing in the morning.  Stick an onion inside a whole chicken and couple of vegetables in the bottom.  Put your chicken and seasonings in the crock pot (read – NO LIQUID).  Put on the top.  Turn it on.  8 hours later, open the top, pull out the chicken and let it rest.  Leave the liquid (yes, now there is liquid) in the pot.

If you want shredded chicken, start pulling it apart as soon as you take it out, while it’s still warm.


If you want chunk chicken, try to pull off the skin and pull out the bones, but leave the chicken in tact to cool.


As you’re pulling off the skin and bones, just dump everything back into the crock pot, leaving it on low.  Add about 2-4 cups of water, more seasoning, if you want and cover.  About 8 hours later, come back.  Strain and reserve the liquid off the wilted vegetables.  Discard bones, skin and vegetables.  Savor the stock!

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After you cool the stock, it should get gelatinous.  This is good, it means you got good nutrients and marrow from the bones.  It’s delicious, nutritious and easy!  To use the stock, you will probably add about 1 cup water for each cup of concentrated stock.  I like to pour mine into ice cube trays and smaller containers so I can pull out a little at a time.

This particular night, I transitioned to chicken and rice soup (printable recipe: Chicken Rice Soup)

1 1/2 cups stock

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 onion, finely diced

3 stalks of celery chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp oregano

In a large pot, heat homemade chicken stock with 2 cups water.  Add vegetables and cooked chicken.  Liquid should cover vegetables and chicken by about 1/2″. About 1 hour before eating, add 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups water.  Let boil and simmer.  Serve warm.



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I apologize for my absence.  I’ve been trying to catch up on lots of things, but I’ve also had my nose buried in a few cookbooks I picked up at the library.  It’s been fun to read new recipes, new techniques, new ideas!  

I’m prepping for Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving dinner and really, just having fun in the kitchen.  Hopefully lots more recipes to come.  Just fyi, I’ve been reading Green Market Baking Book, Homemade Pantry and the King Arthur Cookie Companion.  

Finally, as we approach Thanksgiving, and then swiftly move into preparing for celebrating Christ’s birth, have you paused to consider what are you most thankful for?  

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Uncategorized



Garlic Bread – Monkey Style


I love the idea of monkey bread.  It’s balls of dough, baked together to make a lumpy, pull apart loaf.  Typically it’s sweet and cinnamon-y and starts with refrigerated cans of biscuit dough.  I’ve always wanted to take this concept and make it savory.  There’s plenty of recipes for this idea or box mixes you can buy to get started, but I wanted to try homemade dough.  So I took a half recipe of my pizza dough, let it do the first rise.  Then I had a bowl of melted butter, egg, Parmesan cheese and spices.  We took balls, rolled them in the “batter” and stuck them in a pan together.  The result was beautiful, garlicky bread.  It wasn’t overly greasy or gooey, which sometimes is fun to have but it had great flavor and pulled apart into dunk-able chunks.  We were having spaghetti, so there was plenty of sauce to sop up with yummy bread.

Garlic Monkey Bread

2 teaspoons yeast

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 cups warm (tap) water

1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour (I used 2 cups bread and 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup almond flour)

Take 1/2 cup of the hottest water you can out of the tap (it should be hot to the touch, but not burning). Sprinkle yeast and honey over the water and stir to make sure your yeast is active. It should get frothy in a few minutes. Meanwhile mix together flours (all purpose will work just fine), salt, and spices. Once yeast mixture is frothy, add in oil, mix into flour. If you soaked whole wheat flour, now is the time to add it in. Otherwise, just add an extra 1 cup warm water to flour and yeast mixture.


Knead. For as long as you can stand, but at least 5 minutes. It’s messy at first, but then it comes together. If it’s too sticky, sprinkle with a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, keep kneading! Take a clean bowl, coat it with oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic and wait until it doubles in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

 After the first rise, mix together


1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg

Stir together in a bowl.
Roll dough in batter, place in greased loaf pan.

Let rise ~ 45 minutes.DSC06917

Bake 375 for 25 minutes. After about 15 minutes, cover with foil so it doesn’t burn the top.



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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


Pizza: Friday Night Family Favorite


I started to write “we love pizza”.  While I believe that’s true, the reality is  love pizza.  I have sweet memories or ordering pizza with my parents and watching tv on Friday night when TGIF had quality family programs or a movie or something else.  I think I get it genetically, my mom seems to love pizza too.

A few years ago, I was watching America’s Test Kitchen and was intrigued by their deep dish pepperoni pizza.  I worked on that one for a while.  It was great.  I was hooked. Making homemade pizza was so fun.  It was my first real venture into yeast dough.  Have I mentioned how marvelous I think it is to watch as flour and water and salt mixed with a teeny amount of yeast becomes this living bubbly warm and delicious smelling dough?  It’s fantastic.

So, for several years now, my family has endured my pizza making adventures.  We went really deep dish for a while, then I started thinning it out.  My favorite is probably a bit thicker than “hand tossed” from a delivery place.  But the next challenge was a crispy bottom crust.  I could make a good dough.  I mean, it is flavorful.  I sprinkle oregano, basil & garlic powder into the dough so that the bread itself has flavor once you finish all the toppings.  Recently, after a bunch of reading, experimenting and more advice from my parents, I think we have found a truly successful, repeatable pizza.  We use some corn meal and HEAT!  A pizza stone is beyond our kitchen accessory space allotment right now, but  I learned that I can preheat my oven to 500, with a baking sheet in there and make a nice hot baking sheet.  I move my crust (on parchment and cornmeal) to the HOT pan, drop the heat to 425 and I get a GREAT crust – soft, fluffy to eat, but a crispy bottom that you can actually bite and cut into.

Once you have a great crust, you can have fun with the toppings.  In the summer, we lay fresh basil, sliced red onions, artichoke hearts and ham on top.  We like pepperoni, sliced spinach, bell peppers, sausage, chicken.  Once I coated the crust with barbecue sauce, added corn and chicken and then topped with a mixture of colby jack and mozzarella. This time we have some ground turkey and onions on hand.  I mix in a bit of sage and it’s almost like sausage.  I chopped some fresh spinach and finely sliced some red onions.  My kids just like plain cheese!

Pizza Dough (Printable recipe: Pizza)

1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm (tap) water
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
4 cups flour (I used 2 cups bread and 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup almond flour)

Toppings of your choice

2/3 lb shredded mozzarella cheese

If you’re using whole wheat flour, soak the flour with 1 1/4 cup warm water to soak/soften the grains.

Take 1/2 cup of the hottest water you can out of the tap (it should be hot to the touch, but not burning).  Sprinkle yeast and honey over the water and stir to make sure your yeast is active.  It should get frothy in a few minutes.  Meanwhile mix together flours (all purpose will work just fine), salt, and spices.  Once yeast mixture is frothy, add in oil, mix into flour.  If you soaked whole wheat flour, now is the time to add it in.  Otherwise, just add an extra 1 cup warm water to flour and yeast mixture.

ImageKnead.  For as long as you can stand, but at least 5 minutes.  It’s messy at first, but then it comes together.  If it’s too sticky, sprinkle with a bit of flour.  If it’s too dry, keep kneading!  Take a clean bowl, coat it with oil and place dough in bowl.  Cover with plastic and wait until it doubles in size (about 1 1/2 hours).


If you’re making homemade pizza sauce, now is a great time to do it.  Open a can of 28 oz tomatoes, puree them.  Add in lots of oregano, a little salt and some basil, hot peppers if you like a little kick.  Simmer this in a skillet until it reduces and thickens ~ 30 minutes.

ImagePrepare parchment paper with about 2 Tablespoons of corn meal in piles.  You can put them on pans or just on the counter on the parchment.  Take dough, press into the middle so that it deflates (no need to punch here).  Spread out the corn meal and take 1/2 of the dough and stretch/roll it on the corn meal into desired shape.  We usually have 1 large and 2 smaller pizzas, so adjust your fractions accordingly.  If it’s not stretching, just let it rest, move on to something else and come back in a few minutes.


Once your dough is stretched and ready, cover and let it rise for another 45 minutes.  Now get your toppings ready – cook your meat, cut your vegetables, shred your cheese, etc.  After 15 minutes, turn your oven on to 500 (or as hot as your stone/sheets can handle) and put them in the oven – a large baking sheet works just fine here.  You just want the pan to be HOT!  Once the dough is puffy again, I sprinkle it with a bit of Parmesan cheese, spread on the sauce, top with toppings and cheese.


Pull out your hot pans, drop the oven temperature to 425 and gently slide the parchment & pizza straight on to the hot pan, back into a hot oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown, firm when you try to pick it up and cheese is bubbly.


We had leftovers this last time, so I wrapped up a whole pizza in plastic and foil and stuck it in the freezer.  Easy freezer pizza for another night!  Happy Friday Night Pizza 🙂

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Friday Family Fun Night


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Waffles – Family Recovery Meal


An easy meal for us – a guaranteed delight around here is waffles.  We’ve all been a little under the weather for the last couple weeks.  Not incapacitated, just not thriving.  Blogging about food is just tough when you just don’t have the energy to think about food.  So, we missed a day of recipes yesterday and hope to all be on the mend soon.  Waffles are a great way to recover – they can be dressed down, just plain, not too spicy or complicated or they can be dressed up with honey and peanut butter, maple syrup and apple butter.  And my whole family just loves waffles.  Waffles ought to be simple but I’ve worked to make them crunchy and fluffy enough.  I was quite satisfied with the results this week.  If there’s any leftovers, just take a cookie sheet, line with wax paper and lay them out individually.  Freeze them and pop them in a plastic bag.  When you need a quick breakfast, put them in the toaster.  As convenient as Eggos, just homemade (and possibly healthier :))

Waffles – Printable recipe (Waffles)

Makes about 12 4×4″ waffles.

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 cups milk*

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 cup crispy rice cereal*

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

*I’m sure this recipe is good without the cereal addition. If you choose not to add in the cereal, just reduce your milk to 1 3/4 cups.



Turn a skillet on medium high and put in your stick of butter. Melt and then brown the butter. Set aside to cool.

Mix eggs on medium high until airy, add milk. Mix until frothy.


Stir in flour, cereal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.

Stir in melted butter until well combined.


Pour onto a hot waffle iron. Cook approximately 4 minutes or until done.

Top with your favorite toppings. Enjoy.


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