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.


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


  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.

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