baking · Easter · Entertainment · Make-Ahead · Time management · Uncategorized

Organizing Plans for a Special Dinner- Like Easter!

Cake a

This Sunday is Easter – my favorite holiday!   I’m excited about attending our church services, worshiping the Lord with a thankful heart, hearing God’s Word preached, and then having guests in our home for a special Easter dinner.  What a great day to look forward to!

Because the meal is quite involved, I knew I needed to really get my plans organized.  I even started my preparations last weekend.  I thought I’d share my plans with you about how I am working to get everything ready as much ahead of time so I won’t be  Continue reading “Organizing Plans for a Special Dinner- Like Easter!”

baking · Bars · Gluten-Free · Uncategorized

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars – Gluten-Free, But Perfect For Anyone!

Whether you have to eat Gluten-free, or you just love a good peanut butter-chocolate chip bar, this recipe is going to make your stomach smile!  There’s no butter in these bars, but the peanut butter makes up for all the creaminess the butter would give!  These take literally minutes to pull together, then only require 22 minutes in the oven, which means you are 30 minutes away from a delicious treat!  These cut beautifully, and were just a perfect sweet any time of the day! This recipe came from WellPlated.com – a blog that is filled with lots of healthy and delicious recipes! I found her via Pinterest – where else?!

peanut butter bars 2a

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup creamy  or crunch peanut butter
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats – I used Quick oats and they worked fine!
  1. Place rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the peanut butter, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, then mix on medium low, just until incorporated. By hand, stir in the chocolate chips and oats.
  4. Press the dough into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 22 minutes, until golden and the top is set. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove, slice and serve.

peanut butter bars 2

We don’t eat Gluten-free, but these will stay in my recipe box because they’re just plain ol’ good!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

baking · Cookies · No Bake

A New Flavor of “No-Bake Cookies

When do you like trying a new cookie recipe? One time for me is when I hear a friend/neighbor say they love a certain cookie and wish they could have one! My neighbor told me about a Caramel No-Bake cookie that he had that was the best cookie ever and he wished he could find a recipe! That’s when I went on the hunt to find and make them for him and his family.

I ran to Pinterest and found what I’m sure is the best recipe for a new flavor of No-Bake cookies! Little Dairy on the Prairie had a great looking recipe. It turned out perfectly! There’s LOTS of butter and sugar, but this recipe made about 4 dozen cookies, so you have to take that into consideration. Like the traditional no-bakes, these were fast and easy! Oh, and my neighbors declared them the BEST cookies they’d ever had! Mission accomplished!!

Caramel No-Bake Cookies

Prep time

10 mins

Cook time

5 mins

Total time

15 mins

Smooth salted caramel, crunchy toffee chips, and chocolate wrapped up in one super easy No Bake Caramel Cookie! I can’t think of a thing not to love about these cookies!

Serves: 36

Ingredients

• 2 c. granulated sugar

• ¾ c. butter

• ⅔ c. evaporated milk

• 1 5.1 oz. pkg instant butterscotch pudding

• 3½ c. quick oats

• sea salt to taste (I used a few grinds)

• 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

• ½ c. toffee chips

Instructions

1 Bring sugar, butter, and evaporated milk to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.

2 Remove from heat and add oats, dry pudding, and salt. Let sit for a few minutes until it cools a little bit.

3 Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.

4 Add chocolate chips and toffee chips to cookie mixture. Gently stir being careful to not over stir or else the chocolate chips will be totally incorporated.

5 Drop by cookie scoopfuls onto wax paper.

6 Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes, friends! That’s all the time these take to make! Do a friend or two a favor and make a batch! I gave away every cookie but one! They were too tempting to keep on hand, and too good not to share!

If you get the urge to bake, this recipe has you covered!

With love from my country kitchen,

bagels · baking · Bread

Two-Ingredient Bagels With a Delicious Twist

flavored bagels 1

Oh, friends!  I’ve been playing around with the Two-Ingredient Bagels and I’ve come up with a couple of delicious ideas!  More about that in a minute!

Not only did I find this bagel recipe on Skinnytaste’s  site, (and on MANY other web sites!), I also found a recipe for the Everything but the Bagel seasoning on Two Peas and their Pod.  It’s pretty pricey to buy this jar in the stores.  I went to a bulk food store, found the ingredients and now I make my own!  It’s delicious!

bagels-4

Everything But the Bagel Seasoning

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt or course salt

DIRECTIONS:

Mix and stir.  Store in an air-tight jar.

Use on these bagels, baked potatoes, avocado toast, eggs…the possibility is endless!

I had hoped to share a video tutorial with you today, but after LOTS of trouble and time, it simply wasn’t happening.  So, I’ll share that next week, Lord willing!

bagel 7

If you want to make the Blueberry or Brown Sugar bagels, here’s what I did:

Blueberry Bagels – To half of the dough, I added about 1/4 cup frozen blueberries.  I folded the berries in, then cut the dough in half.  I made a ball of dough out of each half, then cut a hole in the middle, using a melon baller.  I placed them on the silpat on a baking sheet.  Brush with egg white. Sprinkle lightly with white sugar.

Brown Sugar Bagels –  To half of the dough, I rolled it out on the counter, sprinkled it heavily with cinnamon and about 1/4 cup of raisins.  I folded the dough over a couple of times, then cut it in half, made two balls of dough, cut out the center and placed on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat.  Brush with egg white. I then sprinkled about a tablespoon of brown sugar over the top, as well as a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Next time I may try putting the brown sugar on both sides!

Bring to room temperature (about an hour) and then bake at 375° for about 20 minutes.

flavored bagels 2.jpg

I split them open, brushed them with soft butter and broiled them until toasted.

Photo Feb 21, 8 36 29 AM.jpg

Wow, these are good!  I hope you’ll try them soon!

I’ll hope to get the video posted next week.  In the meantime you can visit my You tube channel for other videos.

Which of these flavors appeal most to you?

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

 

baking · Bread

The Easiest Bagels Ever!

bagel 7a

I’ve always wanted to make bagels, but the making of the dough, then boiling, then baking just seemed too laborious.  But when I came across a recipe for Two-Ingredient Bagels that require NO BOILING and had awesome reviews, I knew I had to give these a try!  They were:

  1. Made of only flour,  Greek yogurt (and leavening agents if you don’t use Self-rising flour)
  2. Fast!
  3. Easy
  4. DELICIOUS!!

One word of caution – you have to let the dough come to room temperature, so leave time in the baking process for them to sit out an hour.  You can make the dough the night before, let them set out, then bake them.

bagel 7

The savory topping is so good!  We had a wonderful toasted sandwich using these bagels and I’m telling you, it was a gourmet-tasting lunch!  Here’s how to make them:

Two-Ingredient Bagels

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour, whole wheat or gluten-free mix*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it’s not expired or it won’t rise)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (use less if using table salt)
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (not regular yogurt, it will be too sticky)
  • 1 egg white, beaten (whole egg works fine too)
  • (optional toppings: everything bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, dried onion flakes)**

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment paper, spray with oil to avoid sticking.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the yogurt and mix with a fork or spatula until well combined, it will look like small crumbles.
  3. Lightly dust flour on a work surface and remove dough from the bowl, knead the dough a few times until dough is tacky, but not sticky, about 15 turns (it should not leave dough on your hand when you pull away).
  4. Divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into 3/4-inch thick ropes and join the ends to form bagels. (or you can make a ball and poke a hole in the center then stretch it slightly)
  5. Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.
  • You can wrap leftover bagels in plastic and reheat the next day without refrigerating, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze, slice open and wrap individually with foil or plastic wrap. To reheat pop them back into the oven, toaster

bagels 2

bagels 1
Ready for the oven!
bagel 6
Lovely, brown bottoms!
bagel 7
How good does that look?!

These are only 152 calories, friends!  You will love these soft, savory bagels!  There’s a seriously delicious breakfast or lunch in your future if you make these!

Guess what?  My weekly video on Thursday will be a step-by-step tutorial on making these bagels!  So if you’re not sure you can pull this recipe off, be sure to tune in for some simple instruction!

Happy baking!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

baking · Cooking · Cooking for Two

Tips For Cooking For One Or Two

tortillas a

Recently a reader wrote and asked a good question regarding making meals.  She wrote:

I was wondering how you manage nutrition, food, leftovers, etc. as an empty nester. Do you reduce the recipes to make less, do you eat a small portion of the finished item and freeze leftovers for another meal, do you split the meal and pass one on to another or is a combination of things the solution?

When my husband and I were first married, I had been single and living on my own for a couple of years, so I easily cooked for just the two of us. As our family grew, I increased the meals to feed four on a regular basis.  But as the girls got married and we became empty nester’s, I found out quickly that something had to change.  We would either have to learn to love eating leftovers for more than one day, or I would need to adjust my cooking methods.

Here’s how I have learned to manage our meals for two without eating leftovers for an eternity!

  1. Cut the recipe in half.  This is an obvious one, right?  But sometimes we get stumped with ingredients like,
    1. “1 can of mushroom soup.” I simply put in half a can, then put the other half into a freezer bag, label it, and pop it into the freezer!
    2. “1 egg” – go ahead and use one egg.
  2. Make a whole recipe and freeze portions and put them into the freezer, again, with good labels.  You might think you’ll remember what it is, but when it gets into a frozen state, it’s really hard to tell meatloaf from goulash!  So many things freeze well – just take a look on the freezer aisle at your store the next time for some ideas of what you could store in there! This is truly cooking once and eating two or three times from that little effort!  This is one of my favorite ways to prep ahead for busy days!
  3. Make a whole recipe and share the other half with someone who needs a meal – a shut-in, new mother or a family with sickness.
  4. Make meats where you can use portion control – 2 chicken breasts,  1turkey kielbasa or 2 pieces of fresh salmon.  Then I just add fresh vegetables and salads.  This doesn’t’ have to be boring.  Don’t just cook the meat the same way.  You could make one-pan dishes with cut up pieces of chicken, with fresh veggies roasted in the oven.  Make a baked potato with chicken sautéed in herbs and olive oil.  The possibilities are endless.
  5. Make individual servings – pot pies, pizzas, or meatloaves, etc.
  6. Make soup and freeze it in muffin pans as I described here.
  7. Bake small cakes and use only one layer.

There’s also a great web site on Taste of Home for recipes for Cooking for two.  This site has cakes and muffins as well as the standard fare for main dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I enjoy checking here if I want a special recipe without having too much remaining when the meal is over. Too much of a good thing doesn’t end up tasting like a good thing!

banana-cake

As far as nutrition is concerned,

  • I rarely ever fry anything.
  • We eat low-fat meals, with the exception of special meals or times guests are here!
  • Sweets are limited.  I love to bake, but I send most of it away to others so we won’t be tempted by it.  Then on those occasions we do have it, it’s really special!! (I see chocolate in my future come Valentine’s Day!)

But you know what?  We eat really good food every single day.  Fresh fruit.  Fresh veggies.  Homemade breads – I’ve found some great lighter versions like these biscuits.

If you cook for just one or two, what are your tips?  How do you maintain a healthy diet?

If you have questions about meal planning, cooking or baking, feel free to email me (address is in the contact info) or leave a comment here.  I’ll do my best to answer it!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px