Category Archives: Sweets

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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Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze

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Homemade shortbread cookies are already a favorite of mine- buttery, flaky, delicious, and… dangerous!

But then top them with this pretty lemony glaze that gives a pleasant little tartness, and my oh my! They become ‘to-die-for’!

 

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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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Made-from-Scratch Fudge Brownies (boxed mix copycat)

P1050531I miss boxed brownie mixes. I admit it.

I really do love eating and preparing real foods, and I almost never even have the desire to go back to the foods I used to prepare, but….I do miss those boxed brownie mixes. Maybe it’s just me. But, usually,I am just not overly thrilled with homemade brownies- they’re missing something.

P1050539My ol’ stand-by brownie is this one, A Good Brownie, and I do like it. It’s good. However, it still doesn’t seem to quite match up to the texture and taste of those packaged mixes.

So, being a little disappointed, I just didn’t make brownies very often. But, I was re-inspired to try again to recreate those mixes when my husband was dreaming of hot, fudgey brownies the other evening. My kids chimed in, too….”Oh, yes! Brownies!!”  You see- these are important matters to chocolate lovers. I needed to come up with a brownie that was just as tasty as a boxed mix brownie.

And I think this recipe just might be it!!  These are soft and moist- fudgey, but not too dense. They are the perfect texture, and even get that kinda flaky top. 

Try ’em out and see if you agree!

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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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The Easiest Pie Crust (No Rolling)

P1050398-001Pie crust doesn’t have to be difficult!

This is the pie crust that my mom has been making with pumpkin pie for years.

However, it can be used with most any pie that calls for a single crust.(in other words- only crust on the bottom) I use it all the time!

It is my favorite, because it just couldn’t be any easier to make. You don’t have to roll out the dough, and you can mix it together right in the pie dish!

It also is my favorite because it is flaky and tender and a perfect compliment to that special pie that you worked so hard on.

I wouldn’t say pie crust is ‘healthy’, but a homemade crust is going to be worlds better for you than those refrigerated pie crusts that are readily available at the grocery store. Yes, they might save you a few minutes, but compare this list of ingredients to the 5 simple ingredients in the homemade crust. (Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Partially Hydrogenated Lard with BHA and BHT to Protect Flavor, Wheat Starch, Water. Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Rice Flour, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (preservatives), Citric Acid, Yellow 5, Red 40.) (source)  Wow!

Happy pie-making!

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Fried Apples

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I have had fried apples on my mind ever since my Grandmother last visited a month or so ago. We were on our way to the apple orchard and discussing good ways to prepare apples. She reminisced about the absolute deliciousness of Fried Apples.

So, last night, I decided to get my fix, and serve fried apples with our turkey dinner. And I’m with Grandma- they really were yummy!

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The apples were soft, the syrup was thick, sweet and buttery and the flavors spoke of fall with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger coating the apples.

What a treat!

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Irresistible Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

P1050135It’s fall! Time for colored leaves, crisp air, blue skies, and a lot of pumpkin and apple recipes! I know I’m not alone. Pumpkin desserts are a favorite this time of year, from the traditional pumpkin pie to all sorts of delectable goodies.

Among my “must-make” fall recipes each year is this cake. As usual, I like it simple: just a plain Pumpkin cake topped with cream cheese frosting. However, this fall favorite of mine is far from boring because the cake is so wonderfully moist and dense, and the icing is extra thick and creamy. You just don’t need any frills to make it special!

One special feature I love about this cake, is that it is stored in the refrigerator, due to the cream cheese frosting. And I think this is what really makes the cake so delicious. There’s just something about those perfect slices of pumpkin and cream cheese, right from the refrigerator- cool and creamy.

I’ll admit something.. I ate the leftovers of this cake for my lunch… more than once this week. Not dessert after lunch, but lunch itself. Healthy, huh? But, I couldn’t resist! ( I did also feel appropriately guilty about my indulgence after the deed was done!) But it was so good!

You’ll be coming back for more, too- I promise.

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