Category Archives: Food Storage

Super Simple Chocolate Wacky Cake

Oh my. We have been on a bit of a wacky cake kick. We love the classic cake, but we’ve been playing with the recipe, and have some variations that are to die for!

Actually “we” is a misnomer. I hardly get involved at all anymore. This cake is so simple that my daughters (8 and 10 yrs) are able to make it with zero help from me.

No need to prep the pan or dirty a mixing bowl!

No need to prep the pan or dirty a mixing bowl!

It’s about a 35 minute process which makes it perfect for short notice company, sudden cravings on a busy weeknight, or when your kid tells you about the bake sale the morning of the bake sale. And it doesn’t need to have any fancy ingredients. You likely have everything you need for the basic recipe in the cupboard right now.

Let’s get started!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grab a cake pan.  I use 9×13 Pyrex, which yields a thinner slice.
You’re going to mix your dry ingredients right in the pan, no need to grease it first.

In the pan whisk together:

1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
1/3 C Cocoa Powder (mileage may vary by brand-I use toll house)
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add:

1 tsp vinegar (I use ACV)
1 tsp vanilla
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 C water

Mix wet and dry ingredients well and spread evenly in the pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Variations:

Substitute melted coconut oil for the vegetable oil, and add 1 C shredded coconut for a tropical twist.

Substitute orange extract in place of vanilla for orange truffle cake.

Substitute cold coffee on place of the water for a mocha cake.

Use your imagination.

YUMMY!

Pantry Cooking- Mexican Restaurant Style Rice

I can’t believe it hasn’t occurred to me to share this recipe before now.  I literally tell someone how to make this at least once a month.  The conversation goes something like this:

Friend:  I would eat white rice at home, if only I could make it like the Mexican restaurants do.

Me:  It’s really easy, I’ll show you how.  (I’m super helpful that way 😉 )

You’ll need two secret weapons to complete this task; a pan with a tight fitting lid, and Knorr brand Caldo de Tomate.  You’ll also need white rice, but I don’t suppose we can call that a secret.  (I am not affiliated with Knorr, but I do recommend this specific brand.  We love it, and eat it far more often than we should considering it’s sodium/msg content.)

First, brown one cup of white rice over medium heat.  We usually use butter or cooking spray for this, but dry works too.

When the rice is nicely browned, add 2 Cups of boiling water and 2 tsp of Caldo de Tomate.  Give it a quick stir to incorporate the caldo, then reduce heat to low, and put the lid on.

Allow it to cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes.  Resist the urge to check it by taking the lid off, and whatever you do, DO NOT stir it!  Stirring it will cause it to become sticky.

After 20 minutes you can check it.  It will likely be done, but occasionally I find that I need to add more water.  If this happens, pour a little boiling water in the center of the rice, Do Not Stir It, and put the lid back on for a few more minutes.

After the water is all absorbed, fluff the rice and serve as a side dish to your favorite Mexican entrée.

Enjoy!

 

This recipe has been shared at The HomeAcre Hop, The Homemaking Link Up, and No Ordinary Blog Hop. and The Homestead Barn Hop.

Pantry Cooking- Wheat Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Awhile back I mentioned that I was working on a recipe for wheat and sugar free peanut butter cookies.  I think I’ve got it tasty enough to share. 

The original recipe called for sugar, eggs and peanut butter, but I always try to find ways to leave the sugar out of, or replace the sugar in my recipes.  I tried this one with stevia in place of sugar and it was decent, but not great.  I finally settled on 1/3 C of honey in place of the cup of sugar originally called for.  It’s still got a glycemic load, but at least it isn’t refined sugar. 

The following recipe is the basic model.  You can dress it up with chocolate chips, coconut, or raisins.  Use your imagination!

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C peanut butter (I used creamy)
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1/2 C oat bran
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all the ingredients well and bake bar or drop style for about 15 minutes at 375.

Enjoy!

I’ve shared this recipe at The Homeacre Hop, and The Homestead Barn Hop

A Day In My Pajamas

I stayed in bed until 9 AM, and spent the entire day in my jammies today.  BUT, I accomplished an awful lot. 

First I made a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  Then I sat around awhile, drinking hot tea and slowly absorbing the caffeine. 

Once the caffeine kicked in I started to get motivated.  So I canned up a few pints of last year’s venison to free up some freezer space, and to have a quick and easy dinner option in the pantry.  I’m notorious for forgetting to pull something out of the freezer. 

Since I had to stay in the kitchen and babysit the pressure canner while it processed for seventy-five long, boring minutes I made lunch, and got the popcorn we grew last summer off the cobs.  The corn in the smaller jar is the stuff we dried with the husks on the cobs, and the larger jar we dried with the husks off.  I wanted to see if one way would pop better than the other.  I also held a few cobs aside to use for seed in next spring’s garden. 

Once all that was done and cleaned up I remembered I needed to make a batch of laundry detergent.  It doesn’t take long to mix up a batch so I was able to get a load of wash going right after I went out to feed and water animals and gather eggs, er, egg.  It’s that time of year.  At least they haven’t given up laying altogether. 

Most of my winter days aren’t quite this productive, but I was inspired by another mom-blogger who not only homeschools and runs a daycare out of her home, but finds time to blog about it nearly every day.  Kudos to you, Rose

I don’t know that I could do something cool enough to write about every day, but I do know that I should at least fight the urge to hibernate and do something

Next on the list is cooking dinner, and mixing up a batch of artisan bread to be baked in the morning. 

What does your typical winter’s day look like?

Linked up with The Homestead Barn Hop.

Sweet Pickled Jalapenos

We’re big fans of Mexican food around here.  While I don’t usually go for too much spice myself, I try to keep a can or two of pickled Jalapenos around so my husband can spice up whatever “bland Americanized Mexican” food I try to feed him.  That’s a direct quote. 

In the past I’ve just bought them at the store and kept a few cans on hand.  But when our jalapeno plant made a heroic push to put on a big crop right near the end of the garden season, I figured I’d give pickled Jalapenos a try.   Now, I can’t speak from experience since I don’t like the spicy stuff, but my husband and his buddies love them.  

I used the small 4oz jelly jars because it’s closest to the size we use at one meal.  I don’t like to have opened jars of stuff in the refrigerator because we inevitably “lose” it in there and it ends up going to waste. 

If you have a friend or relative who is a spice lover, these make nice gifts too.  In fact we just gave out a bunch for Christmas. 

You will need

  • 10 or so medium-sized Jalapeno peppers, sliced, with or without seeds
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 T pickling spice
  • 2 C distilled white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 2/3 C sugar

This is not a tested recipe from a book.  I’ve simply borrowed the brine recipe and processing time from my favorite cucumber pickle recipe. I was a little paranoid about trying it at first, because as home canners we are always warned about the dangers of untested recipes.  However, I did a lot of looking around and it seems you truly can pickle anything, and for many recipes canning is optional.  In fact a manual put out by the OSU extension office gives advice for how to use an untested recipe on page 7.  I choose to can mine because I’m a paranoid mom-type. 

Begin by gathering and setting up your canning supplies.  Sterilize your jars by scalding them and then hold them hot until you are ready to fill them.  This recipe will yield around nine of the four-ounce jars.  Simmer your lids.  Fill your canner and start it heating.  The prep on these only takes a few minutes, so you’ll want your canner nearly ready to boil. 

Add your vinegar sugar and pickling spice to a large sauce pan and start heating.  While it heats you can chop your vegetables and mix them all together.  When your brine boils, add the vegetables and let them boil for just a minute or so.  

Spoon the vegetables into your hot sterilized jars and cover with boiling brine, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Run a chopstick (or any clean utensil that won’t scratch the glass) around inside the jars to release any air bubbles. 

Wipe the rims of the jars and add previously simmered lids.  Screw on the ring to fingertip tight. 

Place the jars in your canner, and process for 10 minutes at a full rolling boil.  Check your canning manual for the correct processing time depending on your elevation and the size of jars you choose.

At the end of the processing time, remove the jars from the canner, and put them in a draft-free place to cool. 

After they’ve completely cooled you can check the seal by pressing down the middle of the lid.  If it doesn’t flex it’s sealed.  If it flexes, either put the jar in the fridge to eat soon, or reprocess it with a new lid. 

These can also be made refrigerator style, in which case you don’t need to water bath them, just put them into the fridge and wait about a week to start eating them.

I’ve linked this recipe up at No Ordinary Blog Hop, stop by for more fun ideas!

Happy Pickling!

 

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Pantry Cooking Series, Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? But so easy to skip if you get out of bed at the last possible minute, like I do.  I find having “instant” options on hand makes breakfast more of a sure thing, for my whole family. 

After you try these whole wheat pancakes, you’ll find the mix you’ve been getting at the grocery store bland and disappointing.  When you first make the mix, it seems like too much.  You’ll think it looks like a year’s supply, but you might find you’re eating pancakes more often than you used to.  They’re really that yummy.  I can’t wait for the Huckleberries to come on. 

Thoroughly mix the following ingredients in a large bowl, and store the mix in an airtight container. 

  • 12 C whole wheat flour
  • 4 C powdered milk
  • 1 C dehydrated whole egg powder
  • 1 C dehydrated butter powder (yep, it exists and it’s a miracle)
  • 1 C baking powder
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 C wheat bran, optional, I usually don’t add it to the mix, but rather to individual batches when I feel we need it.

Mix with enough water to make a pourable batter, and cook as you would store bought pancake mix.

I found my dehydrated ingredients at my local Walmart, but they are also usually available at restaurant supply stores.  If you can’t find the dehydrated ingredients locally, a google search will yield about a zillion results. 

Enjoy!

Linked up at the Homestead Barn Hop!

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Pantry Cooking Week 3, Chili-Quin-Corne

I know what you’re thinking.  She doesn’t know how to spell Chili Con Carne!  Don’t worry, I do.  Chili-Quin-Corne is the brain-child of my brilliant husband and daughters.  Sometimes they like to invent things in the kitchen, and sometimes the things they invent are delicious.  Chili-Quin-Corne!  It has become a standby for the times I don’t feel like “cooking”.  To be sure, it uses only one ingredient that requires actual cooking, and that, really, is just boiling water.  The big upside to this meal though, is that it is a great way to stretch one can of chili to feed four people without cooking more beans.  If you’re like me, you never remember you were going to soak and cook beans until it’s too late.  My last batch of home canned pintos came out burned and a few seals failed, so we don’t have any pre-cooked beans on hand right now.

The directions for this one are pretty simple.  Cook one cup of quinoa according to package directions. (Roughly 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, boil, reduce heat and steam for 10 minutes or so.)  Now add one can of chili, and one can of corn.  Heat thoroughly and serve topped with shredded cheese and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

I suppose rice would stretch the chili too, but quinoa has it beat for nutrition and cooks quicker than white rice.  Brown rice might approach the nutritional value of quinoa, but takes too long to cook to be useful in a quick-dinner recipe.  As for the corn, I believe it improves just about anything to which it is added.

I wish there were more to it, and I could look like some sort of genius, but it is really just this simple.  And, alas, I am only of slightly above average intelligence.  Oh, how I wish there were a tongue-in-cheek font.

Have a good weekend! Mine will doubtless be unproductive as I am in the middle of an excellent novel, The Women At Pine Creek, by Allis McKay, from which I have had to tear myself in order to finish this post begun on Wednesday.

Find more great ideas at No Ordinary Blog Hop!

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Pantry Cooking Series Week 2, Chicken Soup

All you need for a basic chicken soup from the pantry

Welcome back to my pantry cooking series!  As I mentioned in week one, cooking from the pantry helps us minimize grocery store runs, and take-out meals, as well as being handy if we just don’t want to leave home.  One thing I find worth mentioning though, is that if you have fresh ingredients on hand, by all means use them.  Fresh is surely the most flavorful, and nutritious.  I’m not recommending you permanently switch to canned, dehydrated or frozen ingredients, merely trying to demonstrate their usefulness.  Whenever I have a fresh ingredient on hand I use it over storage food.  So if you happen to have a chicken on hand start simmering it now.

Today we’re making a quick, and basic chicken soup.  I added homemade noodles to this one, but it would be just as good with a handful of rice tossed in, or homemade biscuit dough dropped in to make dumplings.  You know what your family would like best.

Ingredients:

  • 2 QT water
  • 3 Tbsp concentrated chicken stock (the brand I use recommends 3Tbsp per 1 QT of water, but I like it at half strength)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/4 C dehydrated celery
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 C dehydrated carrot (this time I used one fresh chopped carrot since I had it on hand, guess what we’ll be dehydrating soon)
  • 1 10 oz can of chicken  (This is about the most expensive way to buy chicken.  I bought it to see how it compared to fresh, and it’s decent, but for my money, next time I’ll get chicken on sale and pressure can it myself.)

Using dehydrated and canned ingredients makes this a very quick meal, only slightly slower than just opening a can of soup.  All you do is combine the ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. While it boils for a few minutes you can whip up a batch of egg noodles.  No, really, you can!

 

Whole Wheat Egg Noodle Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • water as needed
  • flour for dusting

Just place the flour on the counter and make a well in the middle.  Crack an egg into the well, and whisk.

Gradually pull in flour from the edges of the well until you have it all mixed in. You can add a little water here if needed. Wet your hands and work the dough for a few minutes until it is fairly smooth.

 

 

 

Now dust your counter and roll the dough to half the thickness you want your cooked noodles to be.  This is where I usually get lazy, so we have thick noodles.  Once you have the desired thickness just cut them to the size and shape you’d like and toss them into the boiling soup.  Boil for a minute or two then simmer for about 10 more minutes.

 

MM-MM!

This whole process from start to sitting down takes maybe 30-40 minutes depending on how many times you stop to get someone a drink or help with a bathroom run.  Quick, easy, and great for a winter night.  Enjoy!

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Linked up at No Ordinary Blog Hop, and The Homestead Barn Hop

 

Pantry Cooking Week One- Whole Wheat Biscuits

One of my personal goals has been to learn how to cook from my pantry.  It really helps us to be able to shop less often, which cuts out many impulse purchases. It also helps us eat fewer box and bag type meals.

I thought it’d be fun to share some of the recipes I am able to make from my pantry and long term food storage.  So for the next few weeks I’ll be doing a pantry cooking series.

I thought I’d start with my recipe for Whole Wheat Biscuits.  Breads are a nice way to round out a lighter meal, and biscuits will even double as dessert if you add a little jam, or mashed fruit and whipped cream.

  • 2 C whole wheat Flour
  • 3 tsp baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C shortening – Ive also substitued butter, or shortening powder (add extra liquid)
  • 1 C (generous) warm milk – fresh or reconstitued dry milk work equally well, or substitute warm water

In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients, then cut in shortening to small pea sized chunks. Over working the dough will result in stiff biscuits.  Stir in milk to make a sticky dough and drop by spoonfuls, or spread entire dough into greased pan.  I use my 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for around 15 minutes until golden brown.

These biscuits turn out light and fluffy.  If you prefer to roll out and cut biscuits you can add just a tad less milk, and roll out and cut.  I just spread my dough out in the pan and cut it like cake when it’s done.  This recipe will also make nice fluffy dumplings, just drop by spoonfuls into simmering chicken soup and cover for 7-10 minutes.

Yummy with soup, as breakfast, or to round out most any meal.

I think next week we’ll make that chicken soup.

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Find more great recipes and ideas at No Ordinary Blog Hop!

Dehydrating Celery

It seems our family rarely uses and entire bunch of fresh celery before it turns limp and yucky.  I’m not sure why this happens, but I think it has something to do with the clutttered state of our refrigerator.  As a result, I started dehydrating any fresh celery I have left after I use it for a veggie platter or recipe.  It’s a snap to dehydrate, requiring no blanching, and it rehydrates beautifully in soups, casseroles, and pilafs.  If you have never dehydrated it’s a perfect place to start.

First wash the celery and chop it into quarter inch pieces.

chopped celery

Place it in the dehydrator trays making sure pieces aren’t too crowded.  Ideally they shouldn’t touch, but I don’t stress this too much since they shrink so fast that if they are touching they won’t be after an hour or so.

celery on dehydrator tray

Dehydrate at 135 degrees for about 8 hours.  I leave it in the dehydrator overnight.

dehydrated celery

One bunch, minus two or three stalks we used fresh, makes about half a pint.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use the oven on the lowest setting with the door propped open with a wood spoon handle, and check and stir the pieces now and then.  You know it’s done when its hard and the pieces are tiny.  I put mine in a closed canning jar for a couple hours to check if any moisture forms in the jar, if no moisture forms it’s ready for the pantry.  If it does (has never happened to me) you can put it back in the dehydrator for another hour or two.  To use it you just add a handful to any moist cooked recipe that calls for fresh celery.  Yummy!