30 September 2014

Spice Sale at Olive Nation

I'm always on the lookout for high-quality ingredients at a fair price. And when I can get them cheaper than fair -- well -- outta my way, sister friend! (Heh, Heh. Don't worry, I won't run anybody over -- there's room for everyone to save.)

I use Olive Nation as my source for vanilla beans when making my alcohol-free homemade vanilla extract. Since they are having a spice sale (save 20% with coupon code SPICE20) through October 6th, I'm adding a couple of those to my list: cinnamon and five peppercorn mix.

The cinnamon at $3.85 for 6 oz. is a good price all on its own. With the sale, you can save 77¢. It has more flavor and a stronger smell than the grocery store stuff, to be sure. It would be delicious in recipes where cinnamon is a key ingredient, like Quick and Simple Cinnamon Bread and Spiced Zucchini Batter Bread.

That same coupon code (SPICE20) can also get you 20% off of dried chile peppers, sea salts, and seasoning mixes. And don't forget code FREESHIP for free shipping on orders over $50. You can't use it in conjunction with the SPICE20 code though, so use the one that gives you the best deal!


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.

21 September 2014

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites with a Raspberry Drizzle, Part II

Yesterday I shared how to make some scrumptious no bake cheesecake bites. Now it's time for the sauce (and the redemption of some raspberries).

It is unbelievably simple. And it totally did the trick! My raspberries went from being too tart to tolerate, to tasting like a raspberry should: sweet with a hint of sour. This raspberry sauce elevates the plain cheesecake bite to a whole new level.

And while I'm working with raspberries, feel free to use whatever fruit you have on hand (or just want to try). The possibilities are endless!

All you'll need is --
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 1/4 cup water
· 12 oz. raspberries

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. (Basically you are making a simple syrup, but instead of equal parts sugar and water, you are doubling the sugar. Perfect for "too-sour" raspberries!)

Once the syrup is cooled completely, place it and the raspberries in a blender and puree until smooth.

To separate the seeds from the sauce, you would ideally use a chinois or conical strainer. Any fine sieve should work, though. I even made do with an old flour sifter, as you can see here:




You'll notice there are still a few seeds floating around in the final product, but that little "imperfection" did not diminish the deliciousness one bit!


Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this raspberry sauce should keep up to five days. Now go drizzle some over your cheesecake bites! (Or dip your cheesecake bites in some sauce, whichever you prefer.)



Recipe Credit.

Shared at Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Simple Life Sunday, and some of these fine hops.





Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, 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.

20 September 2014

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites with a Raspberry Drizzle, Part I

So I bought a couple packs of raspberries the other day. And ya know what? They. Were. Awful.

OK. That might be a little harsh -- but just a little. These "razzie" berries were so-o tart.

I know. I know. The hallmark of a raspberry is it's sweetened sourness, but these were over the top on the sour side. There was no way on God's beautiful, bountiful earth that these would be eaten by the handful. I was afraid they would not be eaten at all, but instead be a total waste.

Then I thought to myself, "No!" I'm not gonna let these berries go out like that. (Really. That happened. -- Please don't judge.)

So I started scouring the 'net for a new snazzy-razzy recipe to try, and found Dana's no bake raspberry cheesecake bites. I was concerned my berries would actually bring down the flavor though, so I opted for something I could control a bit better -- (no bake) cheesecake bites with a raspberry sauce! I figured I could take charge of the berries better in a sauce.

Today we'll tackle the no bake cheesecake bites. In my next post, I'll share the recipe for the easy raspberry sauce.

Sweetened cream cheese.
You'll need:
· 2 (8 oz.) pkgs cream cheese, softened
· 2 cups cool whip (or generic equivalent)
· 1/3 cup sugar
· 1 sleeve graham crackers

First, put the softened cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl. Whip with a hand mixer until incorporated and a little fluffy. Fold in the cool whip by hand until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or with whatever you want, or not at all!) and place in freezer for 1 - 2 hours. I was impatient, as usual, and began to form the bites after an hour.



Next, put your graham crackers in a food processor. Grind and chop to make some crumbs. I had a box of "graham sticks", so just eyeballed what I thought would be enough.


When you're ready, set up an assembly station: the bowl of sweetened cream cheese, a bowl of graham cracker crumbs, and a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Put a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into graham crumbs, cover completely and loosely form the bite into a ball. It might will likely get a bit messy. If the cream cheese mixture becomes too loose for you to handle, just pop it back in the freezer. Once you get each tablespoon into the graham crumbs, it's really pretty easy to form.

Someone tried to sneak a taste -- busted by the camera!

Freeze your bites for a couple hours more. (Once again, my impatience only allowed for one hour freeze time!) You can then put the no bake cheesecake bites into a freezer bag or other container. Pull out desired number of bites and let thaw for a bit (5 minutes?) and enjoy! Here's the finished product (with the sauce). Be sure to follow Stephlin's Mountain so as not to miss the raspberry sauce recipe! Here I am on Feedly, and you can find an email subscription form as well as a snapshot of my Pinterest board in the blog sidebar.


Shared at Happiness is Homemade and some of these fine hops.

17 September 2014

A Most Famous Corn Salad

I'm usually not one to "follow the crowd", but - boy howdy! - did I jump on a bandwagon this time.

I think it was at our family Mother's Day celebration (or was it Easter?) this year that I first had the famous corn salad. Mom brought it to our potluck event. One bite, and I was hooked immediately.

Friendly reconnaissance provided me with the knowledge that this was, in fact, Paula Deen's recipe for corn salad. Funny thing, though, is I cannot find it from the horse's mouth. Partake in a simple round of googling, and you'll find this recipe everywhere. Really. Every. Where. I went as far as page 5 of the Gooooo-gle results, yet was not able to find an "original" Paula Deen connection. I also own three of her cookbooks. Not in them, either. The best I could get online was Paula's Colorful Corn Salad, but it's not exactly the same.

I can tell you, again based on search results, this recipe has been online since at least 2007. How it escaped my notice for 7 years, I do not know. The procedure is crazy simple: 5 ingredients go into a bowl. Mix, then chill. The directions I saw called for canned corn. I used frozen. Of course, fresh would be optimum.

2 bags frozen corn (thawed & drained) + 2 cups grated cheddar cheese + 1 cup mayo +
1/2 cup chopped red onion + 1 cup chopped green pepper

After the mixture is chilled, and right before serving, add in a bag of
crushed chili cheese flavored corn chips (abt 10 oz.).

While I wouldn't dare call it a healthy side dish, it sure is delicious. The crunch of the chips add something extra to the lightness and, believe it or not, freshness of the corn mixture. Personally, I could eat the corn mixture all by itself. Just add a little salt and heat. No chips required. (My humble opinion.) That might make it a bit better for you.

We served this beside some tasty catfish tacos last night for dinner. Then I ate some with lunch today. Then I ate some more with tonight's dinner... um, I kinda like it.


To satisfy my own curiosity, if you know when and/or where Paula first published this wonderful concoction -- do tell!

Shared at Coffee and Conversation, Fluster's Creative Muster, The Homemaking Party, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, and Wake Up Wednesday.


Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, 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.

11 September 2014

Vanilla Spiced Zucchini Batter Bread

Tonight's dinner is corn and poblano lasagna. Zucchini is a required ingredient, so before B got in the kitchen to tackle the prep for our evening meal, I snuck in and used what he didn't need to make some bread!

Before I share the recipe for this yumminess, may I ask you a question? Is the term "batter bread" redundant in the instance of the title of this post?

Maybe it's because I bake for a living, or maybe it's because I'm weird (I'll cop to either), but I always differentiate between a batter bread -- or quick bread, if you prefer -- and a traditional dough bread (with yeast).

B comes in the kitchen to ask what I'm making. My reply is, "Zucchini batter bread." He proceeds to tell me saying batter bread is unnecessary. Everyone knows zucchini bread is made with a batter. "Like banana nut bread," he says. I'm quite sure I responded with a you-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about look. But I simply stated, "Well, OK. But don't expect me to change how I say it based on this conversation." -- Thoughts?


The base recipe I used comes from Paula Deen. I did add one ingredient. (I just adore vanilla!) And since I make my own extract, I have the pure stuff right at my fingertips. It smells divine, and I love to see the brown vanilla bean flecks in the mixture.


Doesn't that look delicious? The loaf isn't overly sweet, in my opinion. A slice of this zucchini (batter!) bread would make a nice breakfast, snack, or dessert.  Just don't forget: everything's better with a pat of butter!

Vanilla Spiced Zucchini Batter Bread

Based on Paula Deen's recipe here, scaled down to make a single loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 + 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (or, 1 5/8 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (make your own!)
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, vegetable oil, eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into a greased standard loaf pan (I used an 8" x 3" pan).
  5. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, using the toothpick test to check for doneness. (Mine was done in 54 minutes.)

Yield: 1 standard loaf


Shared at All Things Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Thriving Thursday, and some of these fine hops.


03 September 2014

Pepperoni Pasta Salad Recipe

I'm not big on salami. Nope. But, pepperoni? Now we're talkin'. I can eat that stuff by the pound.

By - the - pound, I tell ya. Yep.

So when I came across a Betty Crocker recipe for Tuscan Pasta Salad, I knew the first change I would make was the meat. Pepperoni it shall be.

I made some other adaptations simply based on what was available in my kitchen. We all do that, don't we? The end result was pretty delicious. Thanks, Betty, for the inspiration.

I might add a wee little note: I was slightly unimpressed when I first made the dressing. Don't worry, if you are, too. After it sits a bit in the fridge, the flavors marinate together quite harmoniously and become much bolder.

Yellow bell pepper, pepperoni, and red onion.

After a dressing of finely chopped garlic, red wine vinegar, ground black pepper, and olive oil.
This is how it goes in the fridge.

After the addition of Romaine lettuce and Parmesan cheese.
You might be surprised at how the lettuce enhances the flavor -- I was.

Let's eat!

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Tuscan Pasta Salad recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked farfalle (bowtie) pasta
  • 4 oz. pepperoni, cut into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (abt 1 cup)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (abt 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to cool; drain again.
  2. In a large bowl, mix cooled pasta, cut pepperoni, chopped yellow bell pepper, and chopped red onion.
  3. In a small bowl, add red wine vinegar, finely chopped garlic, ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Whisk until blended. Pour over pasta mixture and combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until chilled.
  4. Just before serving, add romaine lettuce and grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Yield: 6 - 8 servings


Shared at The Backyard Farming Connection, Fluster's Creative Muster, Make Bake Create Party, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, September Linky Party 2014, Wake Up Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, and some of these other fine hops.

02 September 2014

Digitizing Photos: Combining the Front and Back into One Image

As mentioned in a recent post, I've been digitizing a lot of family history stuff of late. Even though this is something I've been slowly (ever. so. slowly.) working on for a while, I needed to get in gear and complete the task. I still have a ways to go, but am finally able to see progress.

For those of us that remember life before digital cameras, what are we to do with all the photos accumulated over the years? There are a lot of options, really. Physical albums and scrapbooks are still popular, of course, but they are just that. Physical. As in, they take up space. When trying to maximize a small living area, or even trying to declutter a larger one, having those things around that are only taken out and enjoyed once a year (or less!) might not be ideal.

Though there are sure to be some physical photographs we own that the thought of parting with gives us the shakes, let's face facts. There are probably a lot (as in, more than we care to admit) lying around that tossing would not be a detriment to our happiness.

For those instances, I've chosen to digitize and store in the cloud. Some stay on my computer hard drive, as well.

So! I thought it might be worth passing along this little tip I stumbled upon this morning. While I have no doubt this trick has been done over and over by other quicker thinkers, it was a light bulb moment for me. :-)

I was digitizing a few photos that also contained captions on the back. (Grandpa Lincecum did a pretty good job remembering to do that on most occasions. That in itself is a rare find!) I wanted to combine the front and back so as to have the caption -- in his writing -- stay with the front image. I simply used the Mosaic collage feature in Google's Picasa to do so with a couple of these, like this:


Well, one of the front-back collage attempts wasn't working the way I wanted. I guess it had something to do with the size of the photo. Anyway, I was playing with the collage settings, clicked on Multiple Exposure, and violà!


Pretty cool, huh? Don't forget to digitize the front by itself, so you still have that true image.

Got any tips for digitizing family photos and / or history artifacts?



Shared at September Linky Party 2014, Making a Home, Teach Me Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Tuesdays with a Twist, and Monday Funday.

31 August 2014

Paring Down, and the Power of Sentimentality

Even though the first stage in our "big move" is still some months away, I've already begun the process of "paring down". We all know how a deadline can creep up on us. It always comes quicker than expected. :-)

I've been doing a lot of painstaking work of late. The kind that is very important, but takes many hours before it appears that anything was accomplished. I'm really into family history / genealogy, and have been going through all of my physical files. I'm transferring and digitizing everything not already done so to my family tree program and the cloud.

Up to this point, I've had no trouble trashing or recycling my paper files. That is, until today.

I just couldn't throw it away. Literally. I was physically unable.

My grandparents on my father's side spent a lot of their "golden years" traveling. And they sent us things from just about every stop. A letter. A post card. A photo. A brochure for something they thought we might like.

Though I can't say I kept everything, at some point, way back in 1998, I thought to myself: "Why am I not keeping this stuff?" So I started. Now I have a good 4+ years worth of letters and such from Grandpa and Grandma. It's much like a travel diary. Before email became the norm, and before Grandpa started creating slide shows on CDs to send. (Yes, I have them, too!)

Reading through these letters today, I (the not-so-sentimental type) thought I could simply transcribe the "important" parts into my family tree program. I was so wrong about that. So. Wrong. In the midst of all the travel news, there are snippets like this one from a 4th of July many moons ago:
Hey Stephanie,
Nostalgia has caught up with us; remember one time in Cape Girardeau at the park when you were so scared when the fire works started? We do! Remember at our house on the back deck when the sparklers were so scary? We do! The next day we found burn spots on the deck where all the sparks fell; no wonder you were scared, we should have been scared too.
Even though I grew up and got over my fear of loud noises (almost!) and sparklers, how can I possibly throw that away?

Grandpa is, thankfully, still with us. But Grandma passed away this past January, and I miss her terribly. Reading about their goings on brought her to life again for me for a brief, fleeting, moment. How can I throw that away?

The answer is, I can't.

Paring down, minimizing, simplifying -- these are words that describe an aspect of the life I'm working hard to create for myself. A life that I know will be enriching and purposeful. And today I learned not to underestimate the power of sentimentality.

Memories that you can hold in your hand are important. And worth keeping.

Shared at Simple Life Sunday, Happiness is Homemade, Simple Saturdays, and Simply Natural Saturdays.


Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, 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.

12 August 2014

Keys, Bees, & Cleaning Camper Canvas

Things have been a bit busy around here since the last time I wrote about our big news of a plan to move to the mountains. Though B has been working on the camper here and there, I haven't done too much other than get the title and tag. But that changed this morning when we went out to clean the canvas. It was surprisingly simple!

Instead of going straight there, though, I would like to give you a synopsis of my morning.  It might make you giggle, as well as know you're not alone in having "one of those" mornings.

We were up with the sun so we could get the canvas cleaning done before the heat became unbearable. So out and ready go about 7:30. Upon getting out of the car, I made sure to get my phone and camera. After I locked and shut the doors, I quickly (but obviously not quickly enough) realized my keys were still in the ignition. Great. Well, at least I have roadside assistance. Unfortunately, B and the dog couldn't get started with the camper because the key to the storage area was with my car keys. In the ignition. Yep.

Roadside assistance was called and help should have arrived in about 45 minutes. Should have. More than an hour passes and nothing. Finally, I'm back on the phone with roadside assistance -- on hold. By this time (yay!) B and the dog have made it inside the storage area thanks to our wonderful maintenance guy.

I'm on hold, pacing back and forth, getting a bit agitated, for over 30 minutes! About this time, I notice my dog Bear thrashing about where he's tied to a tree in the corner of the storage lot. I (fairly calmly) walk over to see what his problem is to find a bumble bee going after his butt -- literally. It lands (and presumably stings) and Bear is trying to fend it off. I, deathly afraid of anything that stings, prove my love for my child puppy by heading in and trying to get the stinging sucker away. Of course, I'm hollering for B to come help. He does, and after much dashing and swatting, Bear and I were rescued. Apparently Bear dug up a bumble bee hole under aforementioned tree. We were lucky (blessed!) only one nasty stinger was aggressive.

After this bumbling scene (heh, heh) -- still on hold with roadside assistance -- I finally get a contact call from the people supposedly coming to get my keys out of the car. They arrive, my keys are freed, and I am finally able to get started cleaning the canvas on the camper. Two. Hours. Later. Than. Planned.

Now that you've had a good laugh, let me share how surprisingly simple it was to clean some canvas! I was a little apprehensive after reading a bit about what harsh chemicals might do to said canvas (NEVER use bleach!) -- after all, this will be our home for a slightly indeterminate amount of time. -- So all we got was a mild dish liquid, and it did the trick! We didn't apply it directly to the canvas, but instead to a scrubby sponge (nothing too harsh) and went to work in sections, wetting before and rinsing after (it's important not to leave any residue on the canvas). Here are some before and after pictures.



Not too shabby, eh? I'm pleased with the results, and we can check this task off our (super long) to-do list.

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

03 August 2014

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate: a Book Review

I just finished an inspirational read I was able to get for Free (love that!) on my Kindle Fire.  A 2014 Christy Award nominee entitled The Prayer Box.

Tandi Reese is running from a drug-filled, abusive relationship. She chooses the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a haven for her and her two children. Though she finds herself in a place she once spent time as a child, not all the memories are good ones.

Yet here she is, renting a cottage from Iola Poole, owner of the historical house and property on which the cottage sits. One day, after Iola unexpectedly passes away, Tandi finds herself cleaning out the old rickety home in exchange for rent. After a bit of snooping, Tandi finds a closet filled to the brim with boxes. Each box is filled with letters written by Iola -- letters to God.

All throughout the book, we see Tandi struggle with many emotions that are holding her back from a better life for her and her children. Feelings of abandonment, unworthiness, and the inability to trust are a few at the top of the list.

Through Iola's letters, we first learn about her past. They also provide inspiration and encouragement to Tandi while she works to build a meaningful, fulfilling life with positive relationships. Of course, along the way, Tandi realizes she is not really alone -- God's grace is all around her.

I rarely highlight passages in books, but found myself doing so in this one. Here are a few I wanted to remember and share.
Nothing that had happened since I'd been on this island had happened at random. I'd been given shelter for my family, food to eat, work to do.

Given.

Gifts. I'd wanted to earn my own way, to do this myself, to form a new life on my own, but instead, this had been given to me. This life. This place. These letters.

This revelation.

Prayers are answered in ways we don't choose. The river of grace bubbles up in unexpected places.
(Another!)
Thank you. I wanted to write it on paper and fold it up in a box to remind myself, the next time I couldn't see anything but mountains ahead, that where there's a mountain, there's always a river flowing nearby.

Ultimately the river is the more powerful of the two.
(One more!)
All my life, I'd let the ties of blood control me, limit me, define me, yet I'd ignored the ties of love. I'd shielded myself from the people who tried to slip inside the armor, who told me that I was worthy.
The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate -- highly recommended!

Shared at Simple Life Sunday, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, and some of these other fine hops.

I was featured!
Trayer Wilderness


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.

02 August 2014

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Dateline: 31 July 2014 -- Today is the first day of the rest of my life... It's a cliché, I know. A well worn one at that.  I feel it, though.  I'm "officially" on the path of doing all I can to make my mountain (apartment?) homestead dream come true.  It's a gigantic leap of faith.  God, of course, will handle the rest.

You have to know me to know how huge this is. I don't do crazy. I'm a planner. I'm methodical. I'm safe.

Just a short time ago, though, "it" hit me. You know the idea that pops in your head. The one that you have no clue as to how it got there. The one that's a little totally out of character. Yet the more you think on it, the more you know (succeed or fail) you must give it a try.

She's a bit dirty, but she's ours.  Aptly named "Destiny".
Soon, when the current lease is up at my apartment, I won't be renewing. I'm giving crazy radical a try, instead. We are going to be staying in a RV park in order to slash our bills. The goal is to save at least six months worth of living expenses, then take the plunge. (Deep breath, now!) We are moving. to. the mountains.

[Insert singing, dancing, jumping up and down, and praising the Lord, here... When you're through with that, you will naturally insert a panicked shrill of "Oh, crap. What have I done? How is this ever going to work?"]

I hope you'll continue to follow along and laugh at support our journey. I can use all the well wishes, prayers, and advice I can get!

Have you ever done anything crazy or radical to achieve a dream goal?

Shared at Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, Front Porch Friday, and some of these other fine hops.


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.




I was featured!


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