26 July 2014

Cinnamon Bread. Quick and Simple.

I love quick breads. Mix the batter, pour it in a pan, pop it in the oven to bake. That's it. No long, drawn out process required.

A while back I had a craving for cinnamon bread. I was thinking of a traditional loaf with yeast and all, but was too lazy to go through the motions necessary for my desired result. Ever been there? Yep. Me, too. Quick bread to the rescue!

I found a recipe to try at Allrecipes.com, gave it a go, and was happy I did. It's not the prettiest loaf I've ever seen, but it sure is yummy. There's a nice sweet crust on top, and the cinnamon flavor can be tasted throughout. Since the "swirl" technique is used, I wasn't sure that would be achieved -- glad I was wrong. Craving fulfilled.

Want another peek?


Go ahead.  Get your drool on.  I won't tell.


OK.  You've been (fairly) patient.  Recipe after one more.


Simple Cinnamon Quick Bread

Submitted to Allrecipes.com by bettina.

Original recipe advises to wrap finished (and cooled) loaf in foil and let sit overnight before slicing. I totally did not do this. (Who could wait? I had a craving, remember?) But I'm quite sure the slices would have looked prettier had I followed this direction. :-)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup + 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9"x5" loaf pan.
  2. Mix together 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1 cup sugar. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir until moistened.
  4. Pour half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cinnamon and sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon / sugar. Run a knife through the batter to swirl all together.
  5. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Use the toothpick test to ensure doneness. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: (1) 9"x5" loaf


Shared at Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, and some of these other fine hops.

24 July 2014

How to Make and Store Your Own Dried Orange Zest

Have I ever told you about my love for my dehydrator? (Heh, Heh, of course I have.) Well here's yet another task it can handle for you!

How to Make and Store Dried Orange Zest

The zest of an orange is the outermost, colorful part of the peel. It contains concentrated, highly flavorful oils great for baking delicious sweets and breads. You can most certainly use it in savory cooking, as well.


All you need to do to make zest is remove this colorful part from the orange. You can do this by using a knife to cut strips, a simple grater, or a utensil more specifically designed for zesting. (I have a Microplane and wouldn't trade it for the world.) The important thing to remember is not to go into the pith, or white part of the peel. This has an unappealing flavor. Also, don't forget to wash your fruit before zesting.

If you're lucky and find yourself with a lot of oranges, making a large quantity of dried zest is made easier by using a food dehydrator. (I have a dwarf orange tree right outside on the patio. It's producing intoxicatingly fragrant blooms and fruit -- I'm impatiently waiting for those babies to ripen.)


Additional note: I also watch for oranges (or lemons or limes -- you can zest them too, ya know) in the reduced section of my produce department. I can sometimes find 3 lb. bags of oranges for 99¢!

To dry your zest, simply spread it out on a shelf of the dehydrator and set your temperature to 135°. Walk away and let it do its thing until the zest is completely dry. Alternately, you can use your oven if the temperature can be controlled to that low degree, and you have the time. You can also simply let the zest air dry on your counter top (I have no idea how long that would take, though).

BTW, if you end up with too many oranges to eat, run them through a juicer (this is mine). That's what I do. I then freeze the juice in these little stackable Ball freezer containers and pull one out to place in the refrigerator each night before I go to bed. Freshly squeezed juice is ready to drink in the morning.

Your fresh-dried orange zest can simply be stored in a jar with a tight lid in your pantry. I can't say exactly how long it will last. I can say I've had some in my pantry for a few months, and it still has flavor.

How much does it make / save? I got about an ounce out of three large oranges. I've seen this amount go for $3 - $4 in stores...made mine for pennies!

Shared at All Things Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, and some of these other fine hops.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. This helps support my mountain homestead dream as well as my blogging activities, and the price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! :-) Thanks for reading and following Stephlin's Mountain.

15 July 2014

Easiest Dirty Rice Recipe I Could Find

As I mentioned yesterday, I enjoy inhaling eating dirty rice. A former Zatarains addict, I have been on the lookout for a comparably easy and better-for-me (no chemicals added) alternative. I found it in Alecia's Easy Dirty Rice recipe at Detours in Life.

Ground chuck, onions, green pepper, garlic, and parsley.

Add your homemade cajun spice. How "ragin" did you make it?

Finish with the cooked rice...

...top with sour cream, your cheese of choice, and dig in!

Easiest Dirty Rice Recipe I Could Find

Adapted from Alecia's Easy Dirty Rice recipe at Detours in Life.

Ingredients

  • 2 - 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp cajun spice (make your own!)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley

Instructions

  1. In large skillet over medium heat, brown meat with onions, peppers, garlic, and parsley. Drain, if necessary.
  2. Stir in cajun spice.
  3. Stir in cooked rice and continue cooking over medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Yield: 4 servings


Shared at Tasty Tuesdays, Treasure Box Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party, Making a Home, Teach Me Tuesday, Tuesdays With a Twist, and some of these other fine hops.

14 July 2014

Make Your Own (Ragin?) Cajun Spice!

I like rice, and I like spice. So much so, I'll say it thrice. (Sorry. I'll stop now.) Anyway, one of my favorite dishes is dirty rice. In my "cook-from-a-box" life, I loved to fix Zatarains. I'd fix it midday and eat it for lunch and dinner. Yum. So, as you might imagine, I've been looking for a homemade dirty rice recipe to try. Many I've come across are quite involved -- not interested in those. Then I found Alecia's Easy Dirty Rice recipe at Detours in Life (more on that total meal tomorrow).

One of the ingredients called for in the recipe is Creole seasoning. I know that can be bought at the grocery store, but I didn't have any on hand so I went looking for a homemade version. I soon found the terms Creole and Cajun were often used interchangeably. I made a feeble attempt to search for a true difference between the two, and basically came up empty. I'm sure folks from each camp can rattle off the difference, but I'm not going to try here.

I ended up mashing up recipes I found, and came up with the following concoction. Next time I might add some garlic powder, but was shockingly out this time. Even as is, I liked it very much.


Cajun Seasoning

The more red pepper flakes you add, the more "ragin" this Cajun seasoning becomes!

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder (make your own!)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a jar. Can be stored in a cabinet for months.
  2. Note: You can use a spice grinder if you want everything to be the same size and consistency (ground). I didn't mind the non-ground bits.

Yield: abt 4 tbsp (or, abt 2 oz)

Shared at Homemade Mondays, Homestead Barn Hop, the Monday Funday Party, Natural Living Monday, and some of these other fine hops.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. This helps support my mountain homestead dream as well as my blogging activities, and the price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! :-) Thanks for reading and following Stephlin's Mountain.

01 July 2014

Easiest 4th of July Fruit Dessert Ever

If you're anything like me, sometimes your best intentions end up falling by the wayside. I've been seeing all of these adorably cute decorating and food ideas for the Fourth of July floating around the internet lately, of course. Yet here it is, just a few day before the holiday, and I have done none of those things.

Why? Well, you see, I will be working at my "real" job outside the home on the 4th. And the 3rd. And the 2nd. So I would have had to plan a good bit ahead to get anything substantial done. Unfortunately, I didn't do that. Life, ya know.

But have no fear! I do have a bit of craftiness up my sleeve. It's likely been done since the beginning of time (or at least since the first American Independence Day), so I'm just here to offer you a quick reminder.

Strawberries are red, blueberries are blue, and bananas are white! Toss together with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and another fruit juice of choice. Put them in a cute serving jar, top with whipped cream, and you have yourself a cute, festive, no-brainer fruit dessert!


Quit stressing, already! ;-)


Shared at You're Gonna Love It, Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party, Making a Home, Teach Me Tuesday, Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Tuesday with a Twist, and some of these other fine hops.

29 June 2014

Canning Cherries is a Cinch!

I adore cherries. They are sometimes called "nature's candy" (the sweet ones anyway), and they are scrumptious. But there's only a short window (about this time every year) that fresh cherries are available at a reasonable price. You might even be able to get them for a great price. My local store was having a four day sale, and sweet cherries that are regularly $6.99 per pound were going for $2.99 per pound. That's probably very close to the best price I'll see during the window, then it will be gone until next year.

I grabbed up six pounds of sweet cherries, and started the preservation process this morning. I plan to eat some straight from the bag (highly recommended), use some in a brownie recipe, make some freezer jam, dehydrate some, and can some. Today was canning day.

After washing the cherries and removing the stems, I set to pitting. This is the only part I don't like, but it's not difficult. If you have a cherry pitter, it's a breeze. But I don't have one. Still, as I said, it's not that difficult without one. I just use a small star cake decorating tip. You know the kind that go in icing bags? Just place the end of the cherry where the stem was over the top of the tip and press down. The cherry will separate and the pit will be pushed through.



It only took me about 45 minutes to pit all six pounds of cherries. And since I only do this once a year, I'm sure to be slow!

Incidentally, since a cherry pitter is something I probably wouldn't buy myself, and since Christmas is only six months away, if any family member out there is looking for an idea for something I might want to open in December...take a look at this.

Now on to the actual canning bit! Cherries can be preserved with the waterbath canning process. The absolute easiest way is to pack as many into a jar as will fit with a 1/2 inch headspace. Then pour boiling water over the cherries, also minding the headspace. Apply lid and ring, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

If you want to add a sweetener, feel free. I pack my cherries in a light syrup. My goal is to have them as close to fresh as possible, since I don't always know what I'm going to be doing with them in the future. I just use a water / sugar ratio of 4 to 1. Today, for example, I combined 8 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. Brought it to a boil, and poured it over my jarred cherries. And since I love the combination of cherry and vanilla, I added a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to each of the jars.



Nothing could be simpler!  Six pounds of cherries with the 8 cup water / 2 cup sugar simple syrup gave me 8 pints of canned cherries.

There are other slight variations that can be made, as well. You can actually can cherries without pitting them. I've never done this, but I read you just need to poke the cherries with a pin so they won't burst. Also, if your are wanting softer cherries, cook them in the simple syrup of your choice for five minutes. Then ladle cherries and syrup into your canning jars for process.

Shared at Nifty Thrifty Sunday and some of these other fine hops.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. This helps support my mountain homestead dream as well as my blogging activities, and the price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! :-) Thanks for reading and following Stephlin's Mountain.

26 June 2014

Delectable Dump Cake (Is it a Southern Thing?)

I don't know why, but I equate Dump Cake with the South. So imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered my southern born B had never heard of it, let alone tasted it.

I'm not quite sure what brought on the recent desire for Dump Cake to begin with. I remember reading a post about in online, then a few days later it was mentioned in my vicinity off-line. I guess I took that as a sign from above. Must. Make. Dump. Cake.

Dump cake also brings back memories.  Grandma Logue used to make it for us, and I bet it had been twenty years or more since my last bite.


Dump Cake as it is traditionally prepared, unfortunately, is not good for you. Don't worry, I didn't let that tidbit stop me. Yet I was feeling extra bummed about "dumping" a box of chemical-laden cake mix on top of my canned fruit. So I searched around for a recipe, and made my own. There! Now I feel a little better. (I really wanted to make my own cherry pie filling, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay the price for fresh cherries. I know they're going to be on sale soon, so I've put canning some for next time on my to-do list!)


The topping also includes a couple of cups of chopped pecans. I was able to use my chopping gadget to make quick work of some pecan halves my grandmother gave us. In fact, she's been supplying us with pecans for years.

I remember, when I was a kid, having to go to the tree in her backyard and pick them up off the ground. And I remember her and Grandpa sitting in the living room with a bowl full each, cracking them open.


Ready for the recipe, yet? Don't worry. I won't leave you hanging in suspense much longer.  ;-)


Delectable Dump Cake

Delectable Dump Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2 full cups homemade yellow cake mix (or 1 box store bought)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (make your own!)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Dump pineapple and cherry pie filling into pan. Swirl together and spread evenly over bottom of pan.
  3. Dump and spread yellow cake mix evenly over top of fruit.
  4. Dump and spread chopped pecans evenly over top of cake mix.
  5. Mix vanilla in with melted butter, and pour evenly over top of pecans.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Mine took 55 minutes.)

Shared at All Things Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Four Seasons Blog Hop, Thrifty Thursday, Thriving Thursday, and some of these other fine hops.

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