Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

When life gives you pumpkin puree, make pumpkin muffins (or pumpkin butter, but we were already stocked up on that, or pumpkin pie squares, but I didn't have a yellow cake mix).

Okay, so life didn't just hand me pumpkin puree. I made it myself, but I still had to figure out what to with it, since all of my medium-sized tupperware seemed to have disappeared (the plan had been to freeze it in 2C portions for later baking, but you know what they say about the plans of men).

We hadn't had muffins in a while, so I dug around on the SL forums for a pumpkin muffin recipe. I came up with several, but this one was what I ended up using due to availability of ingredients. I, of course, tweaked it a little, but that's just the nature of the beast in my kitchen (and somedays...).

from Cindy in GA

it's not overly sweet, uses whole wheat flour, and makes 24 muffins. My dc love them! (The batter will seem pretty stiff, but the muffins come out wonderful.)

Combine the following dry ingredients:
4 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
or 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/4 t cloves
2 C sugar
or 1 C honey

3 eggs
1/2 C canola oil
2 1/2 C pumpkin

Mix well. Bake @ 350 degrees for 21 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

I love the fact that the recipe says to bake for 21 minutes. :-P It's probably a type-o, but it made me smile, so I left it.

Corn-dog Casserole

A recipe from the SL boards from "Becca FL," who apparently isn't on the boards anymore (I looked to try to link to her profile or her blog, if she had one, but she's not in the member list).

It's comfort food, and not particularly healthy, but I do make it with whole wheat flour and the hot dogs here are halal (which is similar to kosher).

Due to allergies, this time I made it with four egg yolks instead of 2 eggs and water instead of the milk. It was a little stiff, so I added probably 1/2 C more water. We eat it with mayochup (like I said, it's comfort food).

One thing I find funny about the recipe is that the note at the bottom says "This is the only corndog casserole that I've had that actually tastes like a corndog!" Um, I'd never, ever heard of corndog casserole before seeing this recipe. It most be a regional specialty. Somewhere.

• 2 pkgs (8.5oz) corn muffin mix
o or 1 C flour + 1 C cornmeal + 2 T sugar + 2 1/2 t baking powder + 3/4 t salt
• 2 T brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1 can corn, drained
o or 1 cup frozen corn
o or 1 can cream corn (casserole will have a corn pudding-like texture)
• 1 pack of hot dogs, sliced

1. Combine the cornbread mix and brown sugar.
2. Add milk and eggs, mix well.
3. Stir in corn and hot dogs.
4. Pour into a greased 13x9 inch pan.
5. Bake for 25-30 min at 400 degrees.
6. Slice into squares.
7. Serve with ketchup and mustard.

My sister says she added about 2 tbsp of diced onions to kick it up a notch. She says she bets shredded cheese on top would be good too. This is the only corndog casserole that I've had that actually tastes like a corndog!

Pumpkin Crockpot Granola

I have been wanting to teach MS how to do more in the kitchen, both for his own sake and for mine. Thanks to the idea from my sister-in-law (MKH), I have started MS off with things he can cook in the crockpot. We have a gas stove and oven, and he's a little skittish about fire (guess I should be happy), and while he's going to have to get over that and soon, the crockpot has provided a way to get him cooking without crossing that bridge quite yet. He can make a roast, and he can make applesauce and apple butter so far.

Since breakfast is the bane of my existence, I decided a breakfast option would be a good thing to teach next. So, I planned to teach him last night how to do overnight crockpot granola (using the recipe I'd previously posted). School kind of went long yesterday, though, and we wrapped up read-alouds at 9:30 PM, just in time for MS to go to bed. :-/

This morning, we were doing kitchen-school, so I could get some dishes washed and bake some pumpkin muffins while the pumpkin puree I'd made earlier in the week was still good. Noticing the butter we'd put in the crockpot to thaw yesterday (don't worry, it's cold here already, so the butter was fine), the wheels started turning in my head. Hm, I've started using applesauce in place of 1/2 of the butter for the granola recipe...I bet pumpkin puree would substitute perfectly...I was wondering what I was going to do to use up the puree that I didn't need for the's not even going to be enough to be worth would be just the right amount, though, for granola...

So, MS's home ec for today was Pumpkin Crockpot Granola, recipe as follows.

Crockpot Granola
• 1/2 C oil or butter + 1/2 C pureed pumpkin
• 1/2 C honey + 1/2 C molasses
• 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1/8 t cloves
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 tsp. Salt
• 6 cups of oats - not quick cooking (more like 10 C, if it’s quick cooking)

1. Make sure you keep the cover of the crockpot cracked or off. Cook on low for 5 hours or until brown, stirring occasionally. The more frequently you stir, the finer the consistency. If you prefer clumpier granola stir less.
2. Add raisins, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips...whatever you desire after the granola is ready.
3. This is delicious as a hot or cold cereal, as a snack, a topping for yogurt or made into granola bars.

If you put the lid on directly/completely, you run the risk of cracking the crock (this has happened to someone who tried this recipe).

I put the butter in with the crockpot on high as I prepare to make the recipe and do a few other things. Once it’s melted, I add the other ingredients, except the oats. I stir them until they are mixed and then add the oats (and sometimes the coconut).

Recently, I chopped up several apples and put them in with the ingredients the night before. In the morning, we had dried apple bits in our granola. I’m going to try this with different fruits in the future to see what other options work.

We're planning on putting raisins in once it's done cooking. We'd love to put in roasted pumpkin seeds, but we don't have any. :-(

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From our dear pediatrician (dped?), Dr. Angie S., by way of RR. Very quick to throw together and very yummy. I have taken these to ML's English students many, many times.

I usually use baking chocolate that I've chunked in my food processor, as chocolate chips are expensive (imported) and hard to come by (larger grocery stores in the capital only).

These can be made as bar cookies, as well. They take 20+ minutes to bake at that point.

A cup of nuts can be added. White chocolate with macadamia or hazelnuts (what's available here) is a great option.

The cinnamon is my addition as a nod to Tweety Cookies of Camp Mystic fame (not that I had them at Camp Mystic; Tweety's son used to bring them on debate and Mock Trial trips, but I'm sure they've been encountered by far more people via the camp). Out of curiosity, I googled Tweety Cookies, and sure enough, check out the first thing that came up (after that it was all about you-know-who and Sylvester cookie jars and shaped cookies, in case you were wondering). Too funny. I had no idea that they were so famous until a college friend mentioned them one time. A college friend who wasn't even from my home town. Turns out she'd been a Mystic camper and counselor, so I got to hear about the massive baking Tweety did each session.

• 2 1/2 C flour
• 1 t salt
• 1 t baking soda
• 1 t cinnamon

• 1 C sugar
• 1/2 C brown sugar
• 3/4 C oil
• 2 eggs
• 1 t vanilla

• 1 C chocolate chips

1. mix 2 groups of ingredients separately
2. add group 1 to group 2
3. stir in chocolate chips
4. bake until desired consistency
5. 350 @ 10 mins for drop cookies

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bek's Brownies

A staple among our group of ex-pat friends from, well, from since before we were ex-pats. ML and I first had these with CP & RR at their house on Lasker before we all began this great adventure.

serves 4-6

∑ 1 C shortening
∑ 6 T cocoa
∑ 2 T butter

∑ 4 eggs
∑ 2 t vanilla
∑ 2 C sugar
∑ 1 1/2 C flour
∑ 1 t baking powder
∑ 1 t salt

1. Melt shortening, cocoa and butter together either on the stovetop or in the microwave in a large enough glass bowl/pan to add the other ingredients.
2. Add other ingredients to the melted mixture in order, stirring/mixing after each addition (can be done by hand or with a mixer).
3. Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes (don’t overcook).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sloppy Verna's

Courtesy of Speedy Mom from the SL boards.

We did not have sloppy joes that often growing up, but ML's mom would ship over cans of the sauce as a treat for their family. It was one of the first meals I ate with them when we went to visit when we were engaged (guess I was considered worthy of a treat). We had sloppy joes every 2 weeks or so during our early married years, but once we moved overseas and did not have access to canned sauce anymore, it fell out of our repertoire. I tried several different recipes, but none duplicated the taste of canned. Until Sloppy Verna's. Okay, so it's odd that we searched for years for a recipe that tastes like the canned option, but, hey, we're odd, and we're okay with that.

• 1.5 lbs ground beef
• + salt, pepper, garlic powder - all to taste
• 1/2 onion, chopped (optional)
• 1 jar tomato sauce (16 oz.) or equivalent mixture of tomato paste and water
• 2 T vinegar (apple vinegar to gives it a nice sweet taste)
• 1/2 T mustard
• 4 T brown sugar
• 1/4 cup water (optional, depending on sauce consistency)
• salt, pepper
• paprika (optional)

1. Brown and season ground beef (and onions, if desired).
2. Mix together remaining ingredients.
3. Pour over beef.
4. Simmer 30 min.

This can be heated/simmered in the crockpot, as well.

Until we discovered MA's soy allergy, I would make this with TVP, and it was a super easy meal.

Before that, though, this was my go-to meal when I would brown 4-5 lbs of ground beef to freeze in meal-sized portions. I would use some that night for Sloppy Verna's. I'm back to that option now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lemon Icebox Pie

The kids and I had this pie last summer at ML's parents house before he arrived in the US for my brother's wedding. I insisted that my mother-in-law serve it again after ML joined us (totally selflessly, since he was eating with them by himself), because I *knew* he would love it (not that I had to twist her arm; it's very simple to make, especially with a prepared pie crust, and they love it, too).

It's very rich, though, so be sure to cut small slices. Plus, that way, you can go back for seconds more easily.

From ML’s mom, MHK
Summer 2007

∑ 1 C graham cracker (or petit beur) crumbs
∑ 3 T sugar
∑ 3 T butter, melted
∑ 1/2 t cinnamon
∑ 1/3 C finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

∑ 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
∑ 1 C lemon juice

1. Combine crumbs, sugar, butter, cinnamon and nuts and press into bottom and sides of pie pan.
2. Bake at 325* 10 mins.
3. Cool in freezer.
4. Meanwhile, combine sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice with a mixer on slow and then medium speed until combined (and continue until whipped slightly, if desired).
5. Pour mixture over crust. Freeze at least 2-3 hours.
6. Slice and serve.
7. Store in freezer.

***Late breaking news from ML's cousin, CCG, who got it from her mom, who probably shared it with my mil: the recipe came from is from Orrana Felix, who's husband, Bud, farmed Granny K's wheat farm. They later moved next door to Granny K and looked out for her as she aged.

If that doesn't make it a family recipe, I don't know what does. I love that we're getting this stuff documented while we still have the info.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

UnRefried Beans (CP)

Bethany's awesome, restaurant-quality, much-better-than-canned, actually-doable-where-we-live UnRefried Beans:

- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 3 C dry pinto beans, rinsed or a mixture of pinto beans and black beans
- 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 t minced garlic
- 5 ts salt
- 1 3/4 t fresh ground black pepper
- 1/8 t ground cumin, optional
- 9 C water (or chicken broth plus water to equal 9 C)

1. Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
2. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency (the beans absorb the liquid very quickly as they sit, so make it soupier than you will want the end consistency).

Modifications and Tips:
- I soaked the beans overnight in water with baking soda to, um, decrease the impact on our digestive systems. I kept the cooking time the same.
- I used a stick blender to mash the beans after draining them.
- The first time I cooked these, I used the broth I made from the fried turkey bones and skins we had at Thanksgiving. I had this in the freezer and had made half of it as soup, but it was too spicy for the kids. In the beans, though, with the added water it took to made the 9 cups (I had about 5 cups of broth), it was perfect. Not that everyone has fried turkey broth in their freezer, but if you make a soup too spicy, this might be an option, plus I thought people might find it interesting.
- Now that I've found dried black beans (read: Rob & Steph found them and pointed them out to me), I make these with 1/2 pinto and 1/2 black beans. I soak the black beans for less time than the pintos, and the black beans add to the creaminess of the final product.
- This makes enough for two meals for our family. We have it on a tortilla-type bread that we can get here with cheese, sour cream, salsa and anything else that sounds good. :-)
- If you do not mash or blend the beans, they are very similar to the El Charro beans served at many Mexican food restaurants (at least in Texas).
- I will often cook 1-2 chickens in the crockpot to use the meat in recipes. When I cook them, I add onion and maybe seasoning salt and fill the crockpot to the top with water. After they are cooked, I will use the broth to make the UnRefried Beans. It adds to the flavor.

Alternate spices:
2 t seasoned salt
2 t salt
1/2 t crushed red peppers
1/2 t cumin
1 t onion powder

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


stuffed cabbage leaves
serves 8-10
from my friend, "Debra," who makes this often because of its "simplicity" (it really is the simplest Arabic dish I've heard of), Spring 2001

∑ 2 med. heads cabbage
∑ 3 C rice
∑ 1 lb ground meat
∑ 1/2 C vegetable oil
∑ 1 t salt
∑ 1 t Arabic spices
∑ 1 t cumin

1. Soak rice 15 mins. Drain and rinse.
2. Separate cabbage leaves. Rinse. Boil large pot of water.
3. Place several leaves at in the boiling water for two minutes.
4. Remove and repeat until all leaves have been boiled.
5. Combine rice, meat, oil, salt and Arabic spices.
6. Remove the large vein from the middle of each cabbage leaf.
7. Place the veins in the bottom of a large pot (this way, if anything burns, it is the vein and nothing else).
8. Cut larger leaves in half.
9. Place 1 to 1 1/2 T of meat/rice mixture between two of the smaller veins on a cabbage leaf a little ways up from the bottom.
10. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the meat mixture.
11. Continue rolling until the leaf is completely wrapped around the mixture.
12. Place in pot on top of veins.
13. Repeat above until all leaves are gone or until the meat mixture is gone or until the pot is 2/3 full (either continue with another pot or save the rest for another time).
14. Add water to the pot until it is visible between the rolled leaves in the top layer, but do not cover completely.
15. Sprinkle with cumin (this helps reduce the gas-producing properties of the cabbage) and salt.
16. Bring to a boil.
17. Reduce heat until water is simmering. Simmer 45 mins.

Hint: This makes a lot, and can get old after a meal or two, so you might want to divide the recipe, unless you're serving a crowd.

Mharrat Bandoora wa Koosa

A recipe from a friend in the West Bank. It's been forever since I've made it, but I remember it being relatively simple and very good.

3-4 lbs. fresh tomatoes (peeled*) or equivalent amount in canned, peeled tomatoes
3-4 tsp. Arabic spices
4-5 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. green squash (may substitute yellow squash)
2 lbs. potatoes
1-2 large onions
6-8 cups cooked rice** (optional, if using recipe as vegetable side dish)
6-8 chicken pieces, cooked and de-boned (omit, if using recipe as vegetable side dish)

1. Chop the peeled tomatoes and place in a large pot (at least three or four quarts in size).
2. Cover with about one inch of water.
3. Add Arabic spices, salt, and pepper. Stir. Cover.
4. Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling while preparing remaining vegetables (thirty to forty-five minutes), stirring occasionally.
5. Remove tops and bottoms of squash and discard. Slice squash into 1/4-inch circles, and slice each circle in half.
6. Chop potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.
7. Chop onions into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.
8. Add squash, potatoes, and onions to tomato mixture. Stir.
9. Bring back to boil, covered.
10. Continue to boil forty-five minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally.
11. Uncover as needed to allow excess water to boil off, depending on desired consistency.
12. If serving as main dish, add cooked chicken pieces and allow mixture to re-heat.
13. Serve over rice.

* To peel tomatoes most easily: after washing, bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in a pan on the stovetop. Prepare a several inches of water with a tray or two of ice cubes in a separate pan or bowl. Spear each tomato with a fork or hold with tongs and dip it into the boiling water for several seconds and then place it in the ice water. From experience, I have found that leaving the tomatoes in the ice water for a minute or two makes them most easy to peel. Alternately, you can boil the tomato pieces with the skins on and skim as many skins as you can from the top.

** If serving recipe as main dish, cooking the rice in the water in which the chicken was cooked adds to the overall flavor.

Spinach Dip

A favorite of my family's growing up and one I've brought to the next generation. It's only caught on with MS so far. He, however, likes to have it at his birthday parties.

from the Knorr website.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours

1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz) sour cream
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 package (1.4 oz) Knorr® (or other) Vegetable Soup Mix
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
3 green onions, chopped

1. In medium bowl, combine spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, soup mix, water chestnuts and green onions.
2. Cover and chill 2 hours to blend flavors.
3. Stir before serving.

YOGURT SPINACH DIP: Substitute 1 container (16 oz) plain lowfat yogurt or lebaneh (yogurt without the whey) for sour cream.
SPINACH AND CHEESE DIP: Add 2 cups (8 oz) shredded Swiss cheese with spinach.

- I can buy frozen spinach here, but you could cook your own and use that.
- I use a local vegetable soup mix, and I leave out the green onions, just because I don’t like them.
- It’s good with pita bread and with crackers, best with Fritos, but we don’t get those here.
- I can get water chestnuts, because of the stores that cater to the Asian house-help here, but I’ve also made it with chopped walnuts and with slivered almonds, instead, too.

General Dip Tips:
- Check out your local grocery store for dry soup mixes. I’ve found several that make good dips when mixed with sour cream or lebaneh (yogurt without the whey) and mayonnaise, 2 parts sour cream/yogurt to 1 part mayonnaise. Specifically, I use vegetable, onion and a great curry vegetable.

LEH's blanket

At some point during ML's middle sister's fourth pregnancy, I decided to knit her a baby blanket. I don't remember any particular fanfare as to why, just that it seemed like a good idea. And as with all good ideas I have, I went to Sonlight to ask for help in the execution. I got yarn and pattern recommendations and went to town.

Unfortunately, there were a few false starts on the way to town. I didn't know much about yarn weight, and what I ordered (brought from the States) was too thin, not substantial enough to be knit into a blanket. I also did not like the way the lightest of the three colors I had chosen looked when knit. I know the original pattern called for "Barbie Pink," but there is a reason I didn't buy the yarn the pattern recommended. (I still have the bright pink blanket I ended up completing waiting to be given to a local friend, who will dearly love it.)

So, in a moment of brilliance (or, more likely, desperation), I came up with an idea that solved both of my problems: knit with two strands of different colors. It dulled the brightness of the pink and provided the bulk I needed. And the end result is pictured above.

One of the Sonlight ladies said she often knit a baby blanket with a heart in reverse stitch. The closest she could find on the internet was this pattern. I liked the smaller hearts even better than one big one, so that is what I did. And I knit it in Caron Simply Soft: 1) Soft Pink, 2) Victorian Rose and 3) Plum Wine. The first section is 1 & 2, the second 1 & 3, and the third 2 & 3.

I am knitting essentially the same blanket in blues with stars for ML's youngest sister's son due in January. Pictures forthcoming.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Leigh Anne's BBQ Sauce

The best BBQ sauce in the world. One of the reasons why I love Leigh Anne (okay, one of the many, many, many reasons, but it's still one of them). I use Pampered Chef BBQ rub spices.

1 C ketchup
1 t mustard
2 T Worcestershire
1/3 C honey
1/4 t liquid smoke, optional
BBQ or Cajun spices
salt & pepper


Spices are “to taste.”

Mexican Lentils and Rice

I first found this recipe in one of the Tightwad Gazette books when we were early married. It seems like it's enough places out on the 'net that it's not unique (and, therefore, not copyrighted, and okay to post). Most recently, I was re-introduced to it by my friend LatteMom from Sonlight, and I've included her comments, as well as my own.

3 c broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
or 3 t powdered bullion + 3 C boiling water
3/4 c uncooked lentils
1/2 c uncooked brown rice
3/4 c chopped onion
or 2 T dried minced onion
or 1 t onion powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp each thyme, oregano and garlic powder

Blend all together in a casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 1.5 hrs at 300 degrees (or 1 hour at 350). Top with shredded cheese last 5 mins. or serve with shredded cheese.

LatteMom: This is one of our very favorites. In fact, I make two of them at the same time. One we eat with homemade flour tortillas topped with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc. Then my dh uses the second one to make what our family affectionately calls "Daddy's Yee Haw Cowboy Dip Dinner" (which is the lentils & rice stirred up with salsa and sour cream to make a dip to serve with tortilla chips)...sometimes we'll do that for a dinner, but more than not, it's a great snack. I've also used the leftovers in a salad...a scoop on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and Italian dressing.

Mideastmom: This can be made up as a dry mix ahead of time and stored in ziplock bags. You then just dump the contents into a dish, add boiling water, stir and bake. To do this, you would use powdered bullion or cubes and dried minced onion or onion powder. Our family can squeak by on one of these at this point, but any larger family/family with older kids would need two, probably. We most commonly eat this in a bowl, topped with grated cheese, sour cream and salsa, dipped with tortilla chips

Sweet Mustard Dressing

from my mom
makes about a cup and a half
great on spinach salad or just about anything else (it makes salad, with chicken, an acceptable meal at our house)

1/2 onion
1 t salt
1 t celery seed
1 T vinegar
2 T mustard
1/2 C sugar

1 c oil

Whirl first group of ingredients in blender

Slowly add oil

Tip: do not add the oil all at once. It takes a very long time to blend, if you do. Ask me how I know.

Hint: this recipe can be made without the celery seed. It changes the taste, but it is still good.

Granola (CP)

This is an amalgamation of two different recipes, one from a former Sonlight poster, TaminAZ, and another from I prefer Hillbilly Housewife's granola, but it is more time consuming, so, in a pinch, I make it Tam's way, in the crockpot. Most often, these days, I make it in the crockpot.

• 1 cup of oil or melted butter
• 1 cup of honey
• 1 tsp. Cinnamon
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 tsp. Salt
• 6 cups of oats - not quick cooking
• 1 cup of coconut (optional)

1. Make sure you keep the cover of the crockpot cracked or off. Cook on low for 5 hours or until brown, stirring occasionally. The more frequently you stir, the finer the consistency. If you prefer clumpier granola stir less.
2. Add raisins, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips...whatever you desire after the granola is ready.
3. This is delicious as a hot or cold cereal, as a snack, a topping for yogurt or made into granola bars.

I leave the cover off and cook overnight on low. If you cook it on warm (which my crockpot doesn’t have) you should probably put the lid on cracked/caddywhompus.

If you put the lid on directly/completely, you run the risk of cracking the crock (this has happened to someone who tried this recipe).

I put the butter in with the crockpot on high as I prepare to make the recipe and do a few other things. Once it’s melted, I add the other ingredients, except the oats. I stir them until they are mixed and then add the oats (and sometimes the coconut).

Recently, I chopped up several apples and put them in with the ingredients the night before. In the morning, we had dried apple bits in our granola. I’m going to try this with different fruits in the future to see what other options work.

Baked Oatmeal

• 3 C rolled oats or 6 C instant oats
• 1/2 - 1 C brown sugar
• 2 t baking powder
• 1 t salt
• 1 t cinnamon
• 1 C milk
• 1/2 C butter, melted or 1/2 C applesauce
• 2 eggs
• Additions: carob or chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

1. Mix together.
2. Bake at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes. (Or cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.)
3. Cut and serve warm (some people pour a little milk over each square).

Due to food allergies, our version is made with coconut milk, egg yolks only (2 for each egg called for), and applesauce. And, yes, it still tastes good.

Pumpkin Butter (CP)

I had no idea there was such a thing as pumpkin butter until someone mentioned it on Sonlight a few weeks ago.

Then again, it wasn't until last year that I had more than a vague idea as to what apple butter was or how simple it was to make, so I guess that's not surprising.

Of course, I had to try it out. I love it. The kids, not so much. I think they think of pumpkin more as a vegetable than a condiment. Weirdos. I'll win them over. Until then, all the more for me. And my in-laws, who are visiting and at who's insistence I am sharing this recipe. :-)

• 5 quarts pumpkin puree (approx. 1 jack-o-lantern-sized pumpkin)
• 2 T ground cinnamon
• 1 t ground cloves
• 1/2 t allspice
• 1-2 cups sugar or 1/2-1 C honey

1. Make unsweetened pumpkin puree. (You can use store bought pumpkin puree, but the pumpkin butter won't taste nearly as good.) See directions here: how to make pumpkin puree.*
2. Fill the crock pot to within 2 inches full with pumpkin puree, mine takes about 5 quarts.
3. Add the spices and sweetener.
4. Set the crock pot on medium or high heat.
5. Cover it loosely (with lid ajar) until the liquid begins to simmer. You don't want to seal it tightly because you want the steam to escape so it can reduce in volume and thicken.
6. Once simmering, remove lid. You can use a splatter guard, if it is making a mess.
7. Cook for 6 – 8+ hours. How long depends on the size and power of your crockpot, and how thick you like it.**
8. If the pumpkin butter cooks down too much or is too thick for your liking, just add a little bit of apple juice and blend it in.
9. If it is not thick enough, just let it cook some more, with the lid off so the steam can escape. It will thicken some, though, as it cools.
10. Fill jars or other containers. Cool the to near room temperature (a couple of hours) and store in the fridge or freezer.
r freezer.

*I used a large, jack-o-lantern-sized pumpkin and baked the 1/4’s in the oven for a little over an hour at 350*. I scooped the pumpkin meat directly into the crockpot and pureed it with my hand blender there.
** Mine took more like 24 hours, because I have an older crockpot, and it’s run on a transformer.

Original recipe found here.

Apple Butter (CP)

• 2 K sweet apples, i.e. not Granny Smith (approx. 4 1/2 lbs)
• 1 t ground cinnamon
• 1/4 t ground cloves
• 1/4 t ground allspice (or omit and increase cloves to 1/2 t)

1. Core and slice apples (peel, if preferred) and place in crockpot with spices.

2. Cook on High overnight.

3. In the morning, stir to break apart apple pieces. (You can use a hand blender at this point, if you’d like a smoother finished product.)

4. At this point remove lid and leave off. This allows the excess liquid to bake off, achieving the desired consistency.

5. Stir every few hours.

6. The mixture should reach desired consistency before bedtime of the second night. At this point you can remove to containers to chill or freeze (or can).

7. If for some reason, the mixture still has too much liquid, cook on Low overnight, and chill or freeze in the morning.

Because it's the cool thing to do

Recently, more and more of my Sonlight Forums e-maginary friends are creating recipe blogs.

The idea began to grow on me. Not because I have all that much to share, but because, as I explained when I was looking for a blog title, I find recipes that people like and serve them over and over and over again.

Consequently, I am frequently asked for the same recipes. Similarly to my "regular" blog (and I use quotation marks because the it depends on which definition of regular you're choosing as to whether it is regular or not; I'm thinking "regular" as in "plain," not "regular" as in "consistent"), this will be a place for me to link to when people ask and for the brave few who can put up with my inconsistency to browse (love you, GfG).

As for the title, I got several suggestions off of Sonlight and Facebook. Although the blog title is not directly from any of them, they all helped me brainstorm. An old high school/youth group friend's suggestions of "Cara's Blog of Girly Stuff" inspired the final choice. My parameters were that the blog was going to include recipes and pictures of crafts that I complete, but that the title couldn't be cheesy.

My problem is that, although I am a homemaker and really enjoy doing things like cooking and baking and homeschooling and knitting, I'm not completely comfortable with that. :-l For the record, I don't wear denim jumpers, nor have my crochet projects ever included a toilet paper cover. I'm hanging onto the last vestiges of hope that I'm not completely uncool (I'm typing this on a black MacBook; does that help?). So, that meant that a title like "Yarn and Yummies" (one of my own ideas) was out.

What I chose what a compromise based on a long-standing joke that ML and I have. When he gave me a bread machine for our first anniversary, and I couldn't have been happier, nor thought of anything else I could have wanted more, we decided I was completely domesticated (yes, I know it "domestic," not "domesticated;" that's the joke). When I have a good day at home and accomplish a lot, particularly in the kitchen, I'll tell him I'm feeling very domesticated.

So, I guess this blog is the ultimate proof, domestication at its best. But hopefully still somewhat cool.

(Oh, and the color theme will most likely not stay. It's a little mono-chromatic for my tastes, but I couldn't resist given the theme of the blog.)