Monday, December 19, 2011

Cranberry Wassail

Every holiday season I frantically search for this recipe (from  It's delicious!

1 (12 ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
11 cups water, divided
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup red-hot candies
10 whole cloves
1 cup orange juice
2/3 cup lemon juice
  1. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries and 4 cups water. Cook over medium heat until berries pop, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Press through a strainer; discard skins. Set cranberry mixture aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, red-hots, cloves, orange juice, lemon juice and 4 cups water. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and red-hots are melted. Stir in cranberry mixture. Add enough remaining water to achieve desired concentration; heat through. Discard cloves before serving.
 Tiff's Tips:  keep warm in a crockpot.  Younger children may not enjoy this drink.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

I got this from my friend's recipe blog and made it this week.  It was a winner!  The kids actually ate soup and liked their few bites I made them eat :)  Jeff said it was a keeper too!


* 1 lb. spicy sausage
* 4 medium potatoes, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
* 1/4 cup onion, diced
* 1/2 cup REAL bacon bits (my friend leaves this out and still likes it.  I made it with it and it was good too)
* 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
* 2 cups kale leaves, cut in half, then sliced
* 2 tablespoons chicken base
* 1 quart water (or substitute water and base for 2 cans chicken broth )
* 1/3 cup heavy cream (I actually forgot to put this in and didn't even notice!  Still so yummy!)


1. If sausage is in links, take out of wrapper (or slice).
2. Cook ground sausage, set aside.
3. In soup pot, saute onion and garlic cook 1 minute.
4. Add chicken base, water, and potatoes; simmer 15 minutes.
5. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale and cream.
6. Simmer 5 more minutes, then serve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Delicious Dinner Rolls

I found a new favorite dinner roll!  I made these last night and I think everyone had at least 4 rolls!  They are so soft and yummy.  And the best part....they are even good the next day!  Some of the rolls I made in the past seem so bready and heavy the next day.  Not these - they are oh  so yummy!

I found the recipe on  They have lots of good ideas and recipes.

Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cups of milk
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons yeast
2 cups of warm water
about 9-10 cups of all purpose flour
at least 1 cup of butter

1. Scald 1 1/2 cups of milk, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of butter, in a microwave safe bowl, for about 2 minutes. Cutting the butter into pieces helps it melt faster. There will probably be some little cubes of butter still floating in the hot mixture, they will melt.
2. We are going to add yeast to this hot mixture, but it will be too hot to just dump the yeast straight in (it would kill it!). To cool it down stir in 1-2 cups of flour, then add 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of salt, and leave it to cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, in a measuring cup dissolve 2 Tablespoons of yeast in 2 cups of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until it is bubbly.  Make sure your milk mixture is just warm, not boiling and add the yeast mixture!
3.Using a fork or wooden spoon, gradually stir in 9-10 cups of flour (counting the flour you have already added to cool it earlier). I would recommend only adding 2 cups at time and stirring in between. These rolls turn out so much better when they are mixed by hand.At the end the dough will be dense and sticky, and may be hard to stir, you can use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour if needed. Be sure not to add too much flour. Then smooth the dough out and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place and let it raise.
4.When your dough is close to raising completely, butter 2 cookie sheets and set them aside.
5. Let the dough raise until it has doubled in size.

6.Cover your working space with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Dump your dough out and divide it into 4 balls. Eyeball the sizes, then lift them up and feel the weight of each ball. Try to make them even, but they don’t have to be perfect.
7.Using one ball of dough at a time: roll the dough into a circle on a floured counter. Once it is rolled out spread the top with butter from edge to edge. You will use about 2 Tablespoons per circle of dough.  Cut the dough into quarters using a pizza cutter.Then cut each quarter into 3 pieces. You should end up with 12 triangles from each circle of dough. will roll the dough starting with the wide end of the triangle.Tuck the tail of the triangle under the roll and place it on the buttered cookie sheet. You will make 3 rows, with 8 rolls per row. This will give you 24 rolls per pan. Two balls of dough will fill 1 pan. You will get a total of 48 rolls!

9.Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the pans of rolls in a warm place (on top of the oven if possible) to let them rise. Once they are touching and full in size, cook (one pan at a time) in the oven ’till they are golden brown. About 10 – 15 minutes, It may take longer depending on how hot your oven cooks. Keep a close eye on your first pan to get the right time for the second.While they are still hot and fresh out of the oven run a stick of butter over the tops of the rolls for a delicious buttery glaze.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin Gingerbread

This is the dessert I made for Thanksgiving (well, one of them anyway). LOVE this dessert! It is one of my fall favorites. I got the recipe from Simple as That .

Creamy Pumpkin Gingerbread

1 package of gingerbread cake mix
2 small packages of vanilla instant pudding
1 and 1/3 cups of milk
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1  8 oz container of cool whip

Mix gingerbread according to directions on package. Put in a 9X13 inch greased pan and bake 20-25 minutes. In another large bowl mix pudding and milk. Add pumpkin and spices. Fold in cool whip. Spread over completely cooled cake. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving or overnight. When serving top with whipping cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

**eta: the gingerbread cake mix will be for a square pan but for this recipe you'll bake it in a 9X13

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef                                                                        Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten                                                                           16 soda crackers, rolled fine

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls.  Put on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes in 350-degree oven.  About 26 small meatballs. 


20 oz. can pineapple chunks drained, reserve juice                       ¼ cup catsup
1 cup water                                                                               ¼ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white vinegar                                                                 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar                                                                           

Add reserved juice, water, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan.  Stir over medium heat.  Add catsup.  In small container, mix cornstarch and water until smooth.  Gradually add to hot mixture until desired consistency is achieved.  Add pineapple chunks and chicken or meatballs.  Serve over rice. 

I have not made this - but someone brought this meal to us and it was scrumptious! Just ask Gage, Mom or Niels. They will vouch for it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sourdough English Muffins

Ever since I learned to make these muffins (first hand from Mary Ann Wilcox), I have made these exclusively homemade ever since.  Vivian loves them - which says a lot, because she is the pickiest eater in our family.  They are so good fresh!  I will never go back to store bought.

Mix together,
cover loosely, set out overnight:

½ c sourdough starter (once you have a starter, your set)
1 c milk
2 c flour

Next AM mix together in a small bowl:
½ c flour ¾ t salt
1 T sugar ½ t soda
1. Sprinkle over dough and mix in.
2. Turn out onto floured board and knead for 2 or 3 minutes or till
not sticky.
3. Roll out to ¾ inch.
4. Use 3” cutter; cut out 12 muffins.
5. Place on corn meal sprinkled cookie sheet.
6. Sprinkle corn meal on top.
7. Cover and set aside to rise about 1 hour.
8. Lift muffins off baking sheet and place on lightly greased
9. Bake for 10 minutes on each side at 275 degrees with a lid on.

Yield:  1 Dozen Rolls
Note: An electric skillet works the best because the temperature is consistent and it steams the muffins.

Tiff's Tips:  I make these using mostly freshly ground whole wheat - they are wonderful.  I always make a double batch and put the extra dozen in the freezer for later.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Country Style Gravy and Biscuits

This is one of Olivia's favorite breakfasts!  The biscuits are super easy.  This recipe comes from Mary Ann Wilcox.

Country Style Gravy with Sausage
 ½ lb. pork sausage
2 T. chopped onion
5 T. flour
3 cups milk
½ tsp. sage (optional)
¼ tsp salt
Pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat cook the sausage and onion until sausage is no longer pink.  Drain, reserving 2-3 Tbls drippings in skillet.  Stir flour into sausage and drippings until blended.  Cook and stir until light golden brown.  Gradually stir in milk and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and cook and stir until desired thickness.

I got this biscuit mix from Mary Ann Wilcox, the lady I have taken many food storage classes from.

Biscuit  Master Mix
12 cup flour
4 T. baking powder
3 c instant powder milk or 1 ½ cups dry non-instant milk powder (cannery)
2 T. salt
2 cups shortening

Blend all ingredients together with mixer, pastry cutter or wire whisk. 

2 cups biscuit mix
2/3 cup water

Mix together to form a soft dough.  It will be a little sticky.  Turn out on counter that has been generously covered with biscuit mix.  Gently knead dough until easy to handle.  Roll out 3/4” thick.  Cut with biscuit cutter dipped in biscuit mix.  Bake 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees until lightly browned.

Tiff's Tips:  I double the biscuit recipe for my family.  Doubled it makes about a dozen biscuits.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Caramel Apples

I made these from scratch - this recipe is a keeper (and another great Pinterest find).  This comes from the Tasty Kitchen blog.

  • 12 whole Apples
  • ¼ cups Butter
  • 1 cup White Syrup
  • 14 ounces, fluid Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    Assemble all ingredients: wash and dry apples, insert sticks, and butter a cookie sheet and dinner plate before starting to cook.

    Heat all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir constantly! (Unless you really like the look of scorched bits on your apples.)
    When caramel reaches soft ball stage (235°F–240°F) remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool a few minutes.

    Using the stick inserted in the apples, dunk apples in the hot caramel and twirl slowly away from the heat for a couple of minutes. It’s nice to have a helper or two at this point.
    Place caramel-covered apples on a buttered cookie sheet. Optional: drizzle with melted chocolate or roll in chopped nuts.

    Extra caramel from the bottom of the pan:
    1. Can be scraped out with a spatula into a buttered plate or dish to be cut into individual pieces when cool.
    2. Can be thinned in the pan with half-and-half and eaten warm, as a dip for apple wedges.
Tiff's Tips:  I cooked the caramel longer in the pan until it was a little thicker and richer in color.  I used the cold water method to see if it was at the soft ball stage I wanted.  You can always use the extra caramel and pour it over popcorn.  Just microwave the leftover caramel when you are ready for a tasty treat.

Lasagna Soup

I found this soup on Pinterest on "A Farm Girl's Dabbles".  It is delicious - I made it last night!

Lasagna Soup

for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

I found this recipe on Pinterest and have made it a couple times - we love it!  It's super easy and quick and a hit in my kids cold lunch.

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
Source: Sweet Treats and More

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite Caesar dressing
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (if you don't have fresh use around 2 teaspoons of dried parsley)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
12 slider buns or 4-6 regular sized hamburger buns

1. Place chicken in a 3-4 quart slow cooker with 1-2 cups of water, cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

2. Remove chicken from cooker using a slotted spoon and drain the water from the slow cooker. Place chicken on a cutting board and pull chicken into shreds, discarding any fat.

3. Place chicken back in the cooker and pour dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper over the top. I really make sure that I discard any fat pieces so by the time I was done I only used about 1/2 cup of dressing but you make need more if you have more chicken. Stir until mixed evenly. Cover and cook on high heat for 30 minutes or until mixture is hot.

4. Spoon 1/4 cup mixture onto each slider bun if you are making sliders or more for regular sized buns. Top with extra shredded Parmesan cheese and lettuce to serve.

Tiff's Tips:  I didn't add any water to my crockpot and I still had enough moisture.  I make this and put the chicken in the fridge to make sandwiches over the next few days for school "cold" lunches and for Paul to take to work.