Category Archives: Everything Else!

Homemade Doughnuts (3 ways- glazed, powdered or cinnamon-sugar)

20141224_094457Homemade Doughnuts are something extra-special. We don’t make them too often, but it always seems like a kind of holiday when donuts are on the menu for an evening.

At first glance, this might look like a long process, but these are really not very hard to make. A little time, and advanced preparation, and you’ll be enjoying hot, soft, delicious donuts that YOU made. I’ve tried to include as many specific details as possible.

In our family, we have a tradition of making donuts several times throughout the Christmas Season, or when we get a good snow. (which isn’t too often where we live!)

One of our family’s favorite nights of the Christmas season is when we make the donut collagefirst batch of donuts of the season and watch White Christmas together. It’s one of the nights we look the most forward to each year.

The actual cutting, frying, and coating of the donuts is a family-affair, too. I cut them out, daddy fries them, the kids help to coat them.

We’ve been doing the Christmas-donut tradition for years- my husband grew up with this tradition and we carried it over to our own family. But, we used to use canned biscuits for the dough. I have to say, they tasted great, and they were quicker to prepare, but as I replaced our packaged and processed, chemical-laden food choices with more homemade foods made from real ingredients, I knew that our beloved donuts needed to change, too. (see canned biscuit ingredients here)

Well, at first this was not a popular decision- especially with the man of our house. You see, he’s the biggest canned-biscuit-donut-lover in the family- not to mention a big time traditionalist at Christmastime. But, I was determined to find a good replacement that we loved just as much.

Well, it has taken me several recipes and a couple Christmas seasons to find the “right’ recipe. This one is it. We all love it! I really think the mashed potatoes are the key ingredient for the perfect texture. it helps them to be lighter, and not so dense and cakey. Lard is the best frying option. The donuts don’t become oily or greasy inside- but fry up beautifully on the outside. (and though you might think frying in lard is taking your life into your hands- consider that lard is high in monounsaturated fats- like an avocado or olive oil-and rich in vitamin D. READ HERE.- it’s a GREAT article )

Which coating to choose? Well, we do love them all. Most of the time- we do some of all 3 coating options. If we could choose just one, the preparation would be simpler, I must say! 🙂 But, the general consensus with all of us is that the glazed is the winner for the best coating. It just melts in your mouth.  Oh, yum! (tastes awesome the next day, too!) I think the powdered sugar coating is #2.

Now- a few disclaimers, just to get them out in the open….

1. Yes, the process is a little messy and little bit of work.  When the donuts really get frying and there are several bowls full of coating, and plates for holding the donuts, and several children wanting to ‘help’- yeah it gets a little busy and messy in the kitchen. But you know what- messes can be cleaned up. It’s worth it. Memories are made of these things.

2. I know these aren’t exactly diet food. But, you don’t make donuts because they are good for you. They’re sugary, made with all white flour, fried, etc. Like I said- we don’t make these every other week. Donuts are a special treat for once-in-a-while. And that’s another reason why they are so special.

Here’s how to make them:

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Apple and Caramel Sauce (Ice Cream Topping)

20141116_144111Here is a super simple recipe you can make in less than 30 minutes, all on the stove-top!

Caramel and Apples are one of those truly great combinations. Spoon it on top of ice cream and you will feel indulgent!

I did not use exact measurements for this one,so it might be a little like following your Grandmother’s recipes…you know, a little of this and a little of that. But please don’t let that discourage you from trying a batch for yourself. This one is quite easy and there is a bit of wiggle room in there for amounts depending on your preferences.

So, here we go:

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Strawberry Shortcakes (from scratch – without a packaged mix)

P1050852Sunshine, Summer, Simplicity, Strawberries, and Shortcakes. They just all go together too well to not make this dessert at least once this summer!

Strawberry Shortcakes make such a pretty little dessert to the eye and a yummy dessert to the taste!

There are many different styles of this classic berry treat. Some people use pound cake or a plain yellow cake, and some people prefer angel food cakes to absorb those yummy strawberries!

My personal favorite version is with the slightly sweet individual biscuit-like shortcakes. The most well-known way to make these are with a pre-packaged biscuit mix, like Bisquick.

But, you can make them quick as a wink on your own with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. This will be cheaper, as well as better for you than a packaged and preserved mix.

These shortcakes are buttery, slightly sweet, with a fluffy inside and a little crunch on the outside from the sprinkled sugar!

Here’s how to make them!

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Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream (no eggs)

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There’s nothing like the taste of homemade ice cream. Yum!  Whether it’s served at the church ice cream social or as the finishing touch to your backyard family cookout, homemade ice cream is always pleasing and the perfect simple dessert.

Well, this strawberry ice cream is no exception. It is absolutely delicious- fresh strawberry taste, cold and creamy, sweet and tart- it’s the perfect welcome to summer!

My family gave it rave reviews, and most everyone went back for (at least) seconds.

And what a great way to use those strawberries you worked so hard to freeze and save after berry picking!

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Our Favorite Homemade Tortillas

P1050759We love tacos around here. I make them a lot. It’s one of those meals that everyone at the table is always excited to eat- and without complaints- yay!

Switching to my own homemade Taco Seasoning from packaged taco seasonings was one of the first changes I remember making when I began to switch to truly homemade food.

But, this favorite meal of ours still needed a change…the tortillas.

So, we have recently switched from the store-bought pre-packaged tortillas to this homemade version.

And here is why- Instead of eating this along with our tacos: whole wheat flour, water, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils), contains 2% or less of leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate), salt, molasses, vital wheat gluten, fumaric acid, mono- and diglycerides, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, guar gum, sodium metabisulfite, soy flour, calcium propionate, and potassium sorbate (preservatives), enzymes. (found here)….

…we now enjoy tortillas made with only flour, salt, baking powder, lard (or butter), and water!

These tortillas are sturdy enough to hold all your fillings without falling apart, they are soft, and you will find them a little thicker than store-bought tortillas.

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Quick and Easy Kettle Corn

P1050454Here is a recipe I just have to share with you. It’s the perfect snack.

I still make popcorn the stove-top way. A big bag of popcorn kernels is pretty cheap- much cheaper than microwave popcorn- not to mention much better for you! So, when a friend of mine (thanks, Angela!) recently shared this recipe for Kettle Corn, it grabbed my interest and I knew it was something I wanted to try.

I have made it so many times since then!

In less than 10 minutes, you can have this delicious sweet and salty snack. The sugar creates this coating- kinda like a glaze- over the popcorn, that quickly dries once the popcorn is done popping. It gives it a lovely, lightly sweet taste- not nearly as sweet as a caramel corn. Sprinkle it with sea salt to taste- and oh, yum- It is so, so good! It just couldn’t be easier.

See the original recipe hereThe lady who posted this recipe, Erin Huffstetler, has very clear instructions- which I pretty much follow as written. But, I went ahead and included my own instructions/ingredient list, too.

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Fresh Peach Cobbler

P1040897Fresh Peaches from the orchard have to be one of my favorite parts of summer. And though I really love a red ripe strawberry, a sweet and juicy cantaloupe, or a crunchy crispy apple, I think a perfectly ripe peach that just drips with its sweet juice when I slice it, just might win as my very favorite fruit. I love to eat tpeaches over vanilla ice cream, topping my cereal, in a pie, or my favorite- peach cobbler!

I’m a big cobbler lover anyway. I was just telling my hubby how cobblers remind me of after-church potlucks that we used to have when I was a little girl in the small fellowship hall of our church. It was always filled with many people, loud from laughter and talking, and the tables were brimming with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. Of course the dessert table was my favorite- and I could always find many delicious cobblers to choose from among the goodies. Sweet memories.

This peach cobbler is purely peaches. What I mean is, peaches are the main flavor. I don’t add extra spices or flavorings to compete with the fruit. It just doesn’t need it! Keep it simple.

The topping is exactly how I like my cobbler topping to turn out. It’s kinda crispy on top, but soft underneath- almost biscuit-like in texture, but not as dry.

Peach cobbler is truly one of those simple joys of summer. Why not surprise your family and make one to enjoy after dinner one night. Go sit on the porch and enjoy the summer warmth while you soak in the sweetness of a few quiet moments with the ones you love and a delicious fresh peach cobbler!

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

P1040659Have you ever made-or eaten- homemade pudding? It is SO much better than the packaged mixes you may be accustomed to using. Sure, those mixes might save you a few minutes, but you’re loosing the rich but simple goodness that old-fashioned homemade pudding delivers. (Convenience foods almost always sacrifice taste, and add a lot of fake and undesirable ingredients.)

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as much of a pudding fan at all. I mean, isn’t pudding really just for throwing a cup of it into the kids’ lunchboxes? Isn’t it a bit outdated as far as desserts go? Well, I think you might be surprised by how elegant and pleasing this comforting dessert can be!

The pudding is thick, smooth, and plenty chocolatey! You can serve it as simple as just a dollop of whipped cream on top, or you could use it to create so many other delicious desserts. (that you just might see featured here, soon!) 🙂

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Blueberry Parfaits with Homemade Vanilla Pudding

P1040404Sunday afternoon is family time with my side of the family. Ever since I can remember, my family has always held to the tradition of a big Sunday Dinner (lunch) as a family. I’m so thankful my mom continues to put the time into these big meals. I know they are a lot of work! My ‘part’ in the Sunday meal each week is dessert. So, this past Sunday, I wanted to do something with blueberries we picked last week.

I chose these blueberry parfaits. Such a simple dessert as far as the concept goes- just layers of vanilla pudding, blueberries, and whipped cream. Oh, but it was just what I was looking for- Light, comforting, simple, fresh and eye-catching, too! The blueberries bring the perfect burst along with the creaminess from the pudding and cream.

The homemade vanilla pudding is what makes the dessert extra special. (Packaged instant -puddings are one of the products I no longer buy- I’d rather not serve the chemicals and preservatives with my pudding, if you don’t mind! See the ingredient list here) Homemade pudding is not hard to make. It just takes a little extra time and effort at the stove-top. But you will be pleasantly surprised at the light, yet rich flavor of real pudding.

Finish the parfaits by layering the pudding, blueberries and fresh whipped cream.

Delicious!

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Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (no eggs)

vanilla ice creamVanilla ice cream is so basic. I love it. Its flavor is simple and pure and light. If I’m eating ice cream by itself, I might not choose vanilla- It will probably be chocolate or raspberry.  However, if I am going to be adding any toppings or sauces or eating it along with cake or pie- it HAS to be vanilla!! No contest! Its simple subtle flavor doesn’t compete with the other components, rather just compliments everything perfectly! Yep- good ‘ol plain vanilla might be the ‘boring’ ice cream flavor to some, but I think it’s the perfect backdrop to a beautiful dessert!

P1030855We recently went strawberry picking, which is always a favorite springtime event. I hope to go one more time before the strawberry season is over because there are just so many wonderful ways to eat strawberries! One of our very favorite ways is on top of vanilla ice cream! So simple, but so delicious.

This Vanilla Ice Cream is similar to the recipe for my Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream. However, I opted to use a higher ratio of heavy cream, and obviously a heavy dose of vanilla!

I was so pleased with the outcome. The vanilla flavor shined bright! And our strawberries looked beautiful on top and tasted great, too!

PRINTABLE RECIPE

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