Sunday, March 31, 2013

White Cake

I have been making this white cake recipe for over 15 years.  It is a very moist cake that I have experimented with using all vanilla, all almond or the mixture of the two extracts as I have written below.  The picture you see is the stunning creation of our daughter, M, who wanted to make a pretty cake for Easter Sunday.  She saw a picture online and wanted to recreate the look.  She made my white cake for the base and a vanilla buttercream to ice it. The star of this cake is not the cake itself, but her skillful decorations. Beautiful!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract


Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour or spray two 8" round cake layer pans. Place  the flour, sugar, oil, salt, and 2/3 cup of the milk in a mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in the baking powder. Add the egg whites, 1/2 cup milk, extracts and beat for 2 more minutes. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Bunny Bait

This is a highly addictive snack mix that yields a huge amount so it is great for parties, packaging cutely for class gifts, etc. If you get the impression that I'm encouraging you to share it with others so that you don't eat it all yourself, then you would be correct. It is one of those things that you start eating and think, "enough," then you pick a piece with a pretzel with an M&M attached and think, "I'm done." Then you go back for a cluster of popcorn with the bright sprinkles and maybe a few M&M's in there.  It's never ending with this mix, so just package some up and share it with others and go bite the ears off your chocolate bunny.☺


3 cups popped popcorn or 1 bag microwave popcorn
3 cups pretzel twists
1 bag M&M's
1/4 cup sprinkles
1 bag white Wilton candy melts or white chocolate chips


Melt candy melts or white chips according to back of bag. Spread some waxed paper onto a large cookie sheet.In a large bowl (or stock pot if you don't have big enough bowl), mix together popcorn, pretzels, M&M's, and sprinkles. Hands are great for this especially if your kids are helping. Pour melted white chocolate over mixture in large bowl and use a spoon or spatula to carefully stir all together to coat everything. The M&M's and sprinkles will tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl so try to scoop them into the mixture as it will start to dry pretty quickly. Spread out onto cookie sheet and spread out to dry. Let dry for a while and then store in baggies or airtight bowl.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Lemon Snack Cake

This is a quick dessert that a person of any age can mix together. It creates a flavorful and moist cake square. Serve with fresh berries for a pretty dessert perfect for Spring or Summer. 


1 box angel food cake mix
15 oz. can of lemon pie filling


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, add cake mix and pie filling. Mix together with mixer or by hand until completely combined. Bake in a 13"x9" cake pan for 20 minute until golden brown on the top. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powder sugar before cutting.

From Living Practically Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Easter Fruit Salad

This is a quick salad to put together as a great side dish for your Easter table whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  You don't need to have a kid to make it, either.  If you do though, it's a great recipe for kids to help make . Younger kids can use a plastic knife to cut the fruit and stir it all together making it "all by themselves" with minimal supervision.  Older kids can do it all on their own and get back to nibbling at their Easter basket contents. It's called "Easter Fruit Salad" because of the symbolism of the ingredients. As you are making the salad you can be reminding your kids about the significance of each ingredient as it is added.

  • Strawberries or Red Grapes: Red for the blood Jesus shed dying for our sins on Good Friday
  • Marshmallows: White for the empty tomb found on Good Saturday
  • Green Grapes: New life in the Resurrection on Easter 
  • Lemon Yogurt: Combines everything and is sour and sweet like our sorrow and joy experienced during Lent and Easter. 


1 lb. strawberries or red grapes, sliced
2 cups marshmallows
2 cups green grapes, halved
6 oz. lemon yogurt


Combine all ingredients in a pretty serving bowl. Cover and chill for 24 hours before serving.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mushroom and Leek Quiche

This is one of those indulgences that is worth it for the once or twice a year that I make it (usually Easter and a birthday lunch).  It is so rich and so worth it! If you don't love mushrooms like I do, then you can substitute ham, sausage, asparagus or something else that you like. Pair it with a salad for a full meal or slice it smaller and serve it as a side item on a buffet table.  It is so versatile because it tastes great warm or at room temperature. It really is a perfect Spring treat to make for yourself!


16 oz. mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 leeks
2 T. butter
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pie crust for a single pie


Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray or lightly grease a large baking sheet and place the mushrooms on it in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Meanwhile, cut off the tops and bottoms of the leeks and cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each half thinly and soak the leeks in cold water for about 10 minutes to remove any grit or dirt. Drain and dry. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the leeks in the butter for 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown. Set aside. Press/roll pie crust into deep dish tart pan. Place on a cookie sheet to prevent leakage when baking. Spread leeks evenly over bottom of crust. Layer mushrooms and cheese on top as well. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Carefully pour over the ingredients in the tart pan, then cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning. Bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pancake Mix

Do you like being able to wake up and make a hot breakfast quickly that doesn't involve the microwave? If you prepare a few bags of this pancake mix to have on hand ahead of time, you will be able to whisk them up in no time. You are controlling the ingredients, too, so there aren't any ingredients you can't pronounce on the list ;-)  These are fluffy and yummy and you may be told as I have been that "these are the best pancakes ever". Definitely a great way to start the day!

Dry Mix Ingredients

2 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs


Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Place in bag and label "Pancake Mix." You might also write the wet ingredients needed on the bag (or make a recipe card to keep in a bigger bag along with several bags of dry mixes). To make pancakes, pour dry mix into a mixing bowl. Add milk, oil or melted butter, and eggs and whisk until smooth. Make pancakes in desired size in frying pan over medium heat or on an electric griddle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Red Rice

This recipe has been called "Mexican Rice"by some as well as "Tomato Rice." I like the alliteration of "Red Rice" myself and since it isn't spicy, I don't think it qualifies as "Mexican." It does contain diced onion so I think plain old "Tomato" doesn't apply either, so "Red Rice" it is! Call it whatever you'd like, but please do try it as it is super easy and a nice alternative to plain white rice on occasion. (And, yes, those are thin pats of butter on top of the rice in the picture. If I think a tomato recipe tastes a little too acidic, I add a little butter for balance. I did stir it in to this rice, but for the picture I thought it looked better this way.)


2-4 T. oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups white rice (uncooked)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth


In a skillet or 4 qt. pot, heat oil, onion and rice for 5-7 minutes stirring over medium heat. Slowly add tomato sauce and chicken broth being careful adding the liquids to the hot pan (it might spit at you!). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Continue heating for 5 more minutes or more until liquid is completely absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cheesy Dip

If you ever find yourself in need of a quick appetizer to take to a gathering or if you find yourself hungry for something a little more substantial to go with the chips you are eating while watching your favorite TV shows, give this dip a try.  I was a bit skeptical at first due to onions being one of the 4 ingredients, but I figured with the addition of the cheeses all married in real mayonnaise, it was worth a shot.  I wasn't prepared to like it so much or to have everyone else in this house under the age of 20 like it either! That's actually a good thing, though, since the dip is rather rich and a bit addictive so sharing the dip shares the calories too.☺


4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 small Vidalia or other sweet yellow onions, finely diced
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup real mayonnaise


In large bowl, mix cream cheese, diced onion, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise. Spoon into greased baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Serve with corn chips, vegetables or crackers.

Adapted from Southern Plate

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cookie Dough Paleo Style

Here is a cookie dough recipe for those of you wanting a version with no refined sugars, dairy or gluten. Keep an open mind and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I prefer this version cold myself.


2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 T. honey
2 T. almond butter
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips


Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil, honey, almond butter, and vanilla and combine well. Use your hands to get it all combined if necessary. Mix in the chocolate chips and roll into 1" to 1 1/2" balls. Store in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Perry's Plate

Monday, March 18, 2013

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

This is our oldest's favorite treat and popular with all 4 of our kids.  I was accused of eating too much of the real thing as a kid so it comes as no surprise to me that they all like cookie dough☺ They have great taste! I posted this on The Pioneer Woman's recipe sharing website "Tasty Kitchen" back in 2009 when it was new.  Click here to go to it and check out the site if you've never visited it.  I won't apologize for any inspiration caused by the amazing recipes and food pictures posted there (or possible drool on your keyboard).


1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsps. kosher salt
2 T. milk
1 cup chocolate chips*


Cream butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined. Add milk until blended and fold in chocolate chips.

*Other kinds of chips or cut up candies (Reese’s, M&M’s, etc.) work very well in this recipe also.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Rice Soup

Some days are just soup days, aren't they? This one is simple, tasty and gluten free. I think the smell of homemade soup cooking on top of the stove makes any house smell like a place you want to pull up a chair and settle in for a bowl of soup and good conversation.


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 quarts chicken broth
2 cups chicken meat, chopped*
1 T. parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Heat a soup pot over medium heat with olive oil and rice. Add onion, carrots and celery. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent, then add chicken broth and parley.  Bring to boil. Add chicken and stir. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. 

*If you don't have precooked chicken, you can add a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the boiling soup. Remove after 30 minutes, chop or shred, and then add back to soup.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Wacky Cupcakes

I am very proud and happy to have my first guest poster today. She happens to be our daughter, Marshmallow. She wanted to make her own recipe and headed into the kitchen and did just that! Her creation turned out to be moist and delicious. (I have to add that she is even sweeter than her cupcakes☺.)


1 recipe White Wacky Cake
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 recipe Paleo Chocolate Frosting


Follow cake directions except substitute vanilla extract for almond extract using a total of 1 teaspoon in the recipe. Stir in chocolate chips once batter is made. Divide batter into 12 cupcake pretty paper lined muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cake lightly springs back. Cool before frosting. Make frosting per directions.And enjoy! Oh and don't forget to lick the bowl when you're all done, a personal tip of mine☺

Friday, March 8, 2013

Party Punch

One of the easiest punches I've ever made is one that conjures up fond memories of my Uncle F. He made it for holidays and special occasions. It only requires 2 ingredients and I am not sure if its simplicity was born out of need due to having a very large family or just because there was no need to further complicate it. As kids anticipating it to be made we didn't notice anything other than the sherbet looked like pretty floating clouds and it tasted really good! You were considered a "big kid" when you were asked to help scoop the sherbet and stir the punch. Oh, happy day, when that day arrived! The great thing with this punch is you can tailor the color of the sherbet to your occasion (raspberry for Valentine's or girl themed party, orange for Halloween, lime for St. Patrick's Day, etc.). This recipe also multiplies very easily. Cheers!


1 qt. sherbet, your choice of flavor
2 L bottle ginger ale, chilled


Pour ginger ale into punch bowl.  Scoop sherbet into bowl and stir. Some of the sherbet will melt into the ginger ale creating the punch, but many scoops should remain floating making them in high demand when serving☺.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slice'N'Bake Mac'N'Cheese

This baked macaroni and cheese is easy to make and so cheesy.  Every bite is rich and buttery.  The best part is that the sauce makes itself while baking.  While you boil the pasta, you slice butter and cheese to layer along with the macaroni and milk and it all goes in the oven.  The picture you see only has half topped with breadcrumbs as that is our family's taste preferences and not the recipe instructions ;-) This recipe can be easily doubled and made in a 13"x9" pan for parties and potlucks.


1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
10 oz. bar of extra-sharp cheddar cheese (like Cracker Barrel brand)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow 8" square dish with butter or olive oil. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes (you only want to cook it partially). Drain. Slice cheese as thinly as possible. Slice butter about the same width as the cheese. Place half the macaroni on the bottom of the baking dish. Dot with half of the butter squares and half the cheese. Add half of the milk. Repeat layers. Cover the dish with foil and place on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir and top with bread crumbs. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Adapted from recipe on Vanderbilt Wife

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Busier Day Banana Bread

Our kids are used to my kitchen experiments and some turn out better than others.  This one combines two flavors we love - bananas and chocolate. It's almost as easy as the original recipe I posted and definitely worth the extra step! And if you want to add even more Nutella on top, I am with you 100%! (It does contain chocolate, hazelnuts and milk so several of my favorite food groups are covered.☺)


1 recipe Busy Day Banana Bread
1/2 cup Nutella


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour pan. Follow directions for making banana bread. Once mixed, add half of the batter to a second bowl and add Nutella. Mix just until uniform. Checkerboard the two batters into loaf pan on the bottom and then on top of each other as well until all the batter is in pan. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.

Inspired by this recipe on What Megan's Making Blog

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix

Having this dry cake mix on hand can be useful for the many recipes that call for a yellow cake mix especially the ones that only call for "1 cup" or "2 cups." It makes just under 9 cups of mix so if you store it evenly halved you can also make smaller batches at a time should the need arise ("12 cupcakes for after dinner? Turn on the oven!")


2 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3 T. cornstarch
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1 T. vanilla extract


Process sugar, flour, milk powder, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a food processor for 15 seconds to combine. Add butter and vanilla and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Freeze the dry mixture in a plastic bag for up to 2 months or use immediately.

To make cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour your pan(s) of choice.* With an electric mixer, mix the prepared cake mix with 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 eggs until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake(s) in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

*For two 9" round cakes, bake for 20-25 minutes; for one 13"x9" cake, bake for 35 to 40 minutes; for one 12-cup bundt pan, bake for 40 - 45 minutes; for 24 cupcakes, bake for 18 - 20 minutes.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

Head to your pantry and spice cabinet for the ingredients to whip up the sauce for these chicken enchiladas. It's mild so if you want to add any heat add a little cayenne or some canned jalapeños.  I like to serve this with a rice dish and salad for an enjoyable family meal.


1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. butter
16-oz. can diced tomatoes
4-oz. can green chiles, diced
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
2 cups shredded chicken
Green onions, olives, cilantro, sour cream, salsa


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until tender.  Add the tomatoes, chiles, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano and basil. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. (At this point I like to use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth or you can transfer to a blender for this process or you can leave the sauce chunky!) Dip each tortilla briefly in the sauce to soften. Place 2 tablespoons of chicken and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in a 13" x 9" baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Garnish with olives, cilantro, sour cream and salsa.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Buttermilk Cinnaswirl Bread

This is an easy recipe that can be put together quickly. The yield of two loaves allows you to share one or freeze one. You could also bake mini loaves making plenty and not have to choose☺


4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 T. cinnamon


In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add buttermilk, vanilla and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill two greased 8" x 4" loaf pans half full. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar. Swirl batter with a knife. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.