Nov 29, 2008

Best Toffee Ever

I love Christmas time. With all the smells and sounds of Christmas.
I thought about what I wanted to do for my blog this month. I came up with a few different ideas but settled on giving. I wanted to think of all the different things we can give at this season. I know that candy is one of my favorite things to make and give away at Christmas. Today I am sharing with you a simple and favorite recipe that my family makes every year. Toffee! It is so good it just melts in your mouth. It is simple and really easy to make. Don't get addicted.

2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped almonds

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

While the toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and press in slightly. Putting a plastic bag over your hand will minimize the mess.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Nov 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I just wanted to take a moment to write down a few things that I am thankful for. I am so thankful for my family. My husband Scott is the best husband anyone could ever ask for. Thank you honey for doing all that you do for our family. You sacrifice so much for us. You are away for long periods of time to make sure that we are cared for. I love you so very much! I am thankful for my three wonderful children. They bring so much joy and happiness to our lives. I am bless to be able to raise you. My freedom must come next. I am grateful for all those who have helped keep us free and safe. What a blessing you are to all of us. I am so thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't know where I would be with out it. Well.... Yea maybe I do know where I would be. I am grateful for my mother and Stepfather. I love my father so very much and I miss him deeply. I am thankful for my in-laws and all they do for me and for all the love that they freely give. I love and enjoy my three younger brothers and their families. My brother and sister- in laws and their family. I am grateful to have the Gospel in my life and the comfort and peace it brings to me. I am grateful for my calling in the Primary and I love the children I am able to help. I am grateful for this time that I have just to reflect and think about life. There are many more things I am thankful for but I am out of time. Nichol

Nov 26, 2008

Strawberry Delight

One of my most favorite dessert that my mom use to make was Strawberry Delight. I was always afraid to eat it because it was so good. I knew if I took one bite I would want to eat the whole thing.

Strawberry Delight

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup white sugar
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin or strawberry Danish Dessert
2 cups boiling water
1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix together the pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries, and stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.

Nov 25, 2008

Perfect Pumpkin Pies

Who can't resist the smell of a freshly baked pie? Making pumpkin pie is simple and well worth your time and effort.

Pumpkin Pie:
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (see below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half, and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don't over work it. Use as directed in pie recipe.

Have you ever wondered to make those fancy edgings on your pies?

Nov 24, 2008

Day Before Mashed Potatoes

The Holidays can get so busy I found this recipe a few years back and I thought I would share it with you. It makes cooking on Thanksgiving morning much easier. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

9 potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl, and mash until smooth. I like putting them in my mixer to make the super smooth and creamy. Mix in the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, salt, pepper and butter. Cover, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
Spread potato mixture into the prepared baking dish, and bake in the preheated oven about 30 minutes.

Nov 23, 2008

Perfect Turkey

Are you looking to cook the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving? I love to brine my turkey. This will make the moistest and juiciest turkey you will ever eat. The juices from the turkey will also make the best gravy it is to die for. I got this recipe from my mom. She always cooked our turkeys this way. I remember as a kid, waiting for my dad to carve the turkey and perhaps get a taste. You can cook any kind of poultry this way.

1 gallon vegetable broth
1 cup sea salt
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried savory
1 gallon ice water

In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Make sure this bucket is food grade. I sometimes just use a large stockpot if my turkey will fit. Stir in the ice water.Wash and dry your turkey.

Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight. I happen to live where it is cold so I just put it in the garage or on the front porch.

Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.

I thought you might enjoy learning how to Stuff and carve a turkey. Thanks to Taste of Homes.

Nov 22, 2008

Layered Chili

This recipe is the easiest chili recipe if you want to add chili to your food storage. I can it and everything just goes into my jars in layers. It is simple and doesn't take much time. The most time consuming part is cooking the hamburger.

Layered Chili
2/3 cups dry Kidney beans rinsed
2/3 cups ground beef, browned and drained
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
2 TBS Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I omit this)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
This recipe is for quarts. Have your jars sterilized and lids warm. I like to place my clean jars in the oven set at 225 to warm them up and to sterilize them. Place each ingredient in the jar in order. Fill remainder of jar with hot water leaving a 1 inch head space. Process at 15 lbs of pressure for 90 Min. When ready to use garnish with cheese and sour cream. Easy dinner.

Nov 20, 2008

Food Storage Friday

Canned Meatloaf

For those of you that don't know me I can alot of things myself. This last weekend we made meatloaf and we had some extra meal left over so I canned it. I just stuffed it into the jars just like I would my canned hamburger and processed it for 75 min. for pints and 90 min. for quarts. We opened on up today for lunch and it was great. Add some mashed potatoes and a side, walla you have a meal.

Nov 19, 2008

Shelf Stable Magic Mix

I wanted to have a mix that was like Magic Mix that didn't require refrigeration. I have found one that I like and thought I would share it with you.

Magic Mix (no refrigeration required)
3 Cups Flour
4 Cups Powdered Milk
4 Cups Powdered Butter
2 Tbsp. Salt

Place all the ingredients in a bowl. I like using my mixer with my whisk attachment. Mix until it is well incorporated. Place in a #10 Can with a lid and place on the shelf for up to 6 months. You can use wheat flour if you would like. This will make approximately 1 gallon. You can use this for anything that calls for Magic Mix.

Nov 17, 2008

Tuesday Tip Day

Out of onion powder? What?

This last weekend I was making some onion soup mix and I had ran out of onion powder. I pondered on the situation and decided to grind up some dehydrated onions and see how it turned out. To my surprise it tasted wonderful. I will now make my own onion powder. This way I know what is in it and not all that added junk.

Onion Soup Mix

2/3 Cup Dehydrated Onions
1/2 Cup Beef Bullion
2 tsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine Powder
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Garlic Powder (Optional)

Mix well and place in an airtight container. This mix can be used with anything calling for onion soup mix. You will learn to love it!

I did make some Alfredo sauce with my dehydrated onion powder it called for 1 tsp. I think next time I will cut it in half. So if you try this only use 1/2 of what you would normally use.

Nov 14, 2008

Food Storage Friday

Chicken Fried Steak

One of my favorite thing to eat in this whole wide world is chicken fried streak. I have no idea why but I love it! I love the way it tastes and the yummy gravy that comes with it. Sense I love it so much I had to learn how to make it. When I first thought of making this dinner, I thought to myself it has to be hard. I am here to tell you that it is not! If you will follow my simple recipe you too can make delicious chicken fried steak at your house.

Chicken Fried Steak:

Chopped Round Steak
Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper

The ingredients will be different for each person depending on the amount of people you are cooking for. I didnt put an amount for these. You will just need to guess and add additional flour or bread crumbs.

The first thing you will want to do is mix some eggs together. for my family of I usually use 4 eggs. Add a little bit of water (about 1/8 cup) and beat them together. I then take my chopped round steak and dip it into the egg wash. I get it coated on both sides. I have found that if I just use my hands the steak will not fall apart as easily.

I then transfer the steak into my flour. I like to put salt and peper in my four.
I use whole wheat flour that I grind fresh. Make sure that each side is coated well.

Then transfer this back into the egg wash and coat it with eggs.

Then transfer this into your bread crumbs. I like to use a 50/50 combination of Italian bread crumbs and McCormick® French Onion, Pepper & Herb Crusting Blend. The Crusting Blends are new. They have only been available for about 6 months. I have fell in love with these. They also have two other flavors.

Garlic lemon and rosemary
Italian herb and Cheese.

You will want to make sure that the meat is covered with the bread crumbs. I can smell it now.

Once your steak has been covered with bread crumbs it is ready to be cooked. I like to brown my steaks in a pain with a little olive oil for a few seconds on each side to get that brown yummy look. It is not neccisary.

Then place all the steaks onto a cookie sheet. I like to line my sheets with parchment paper for an eaisier clean up. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. Serve with yummy mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Enjoy!

Nov 13, 2008

Pomegranate Salad

Every year around the holidays I look forward to all the yummy things we get to eat. One of my favorite things to eat is Pomegranates. Each year we make Pomegranate Salad. My mother started this tradition when I was just a young girl. I remember her opening them up and seeing how red and juicy they were. It has turned into our little tradition in my own family. Each year my kids seem to enjoy it even more. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants and are very good for our bodies. Best of all they taste great. We enjoy eating this for breakfast or dessert.
Pomegranate Salad

3-4 Pomegranates
2 11 oz. can of Mandarin Oranges
2 Chopped Apples
1 Can of Pineapple (any kind)
Miniature Marshmallows (optional)
Cool Whip

Prepare the pomegranates by sectioning the fruit. Remove the fruit and place into a bowl. Add oranges, apples, pineapple and marshmallows. Add Cool Whip just before serving. Enjoy.

Nov 11, 2008

Tuesday Tip Day

Grinding Grains

Whenever I have a recipe that I want to use I never know how much grain to grind. So here is a chart to help you know how much grain to grind. Each of these equal 1 cup of flour.
  • 3/4 C. Wheat
  • 1/2 C. Pearled Barley
  • 1 1/3 C. Rolled Oats (Grind in Blender)
  • 2/3 C. Buckwheat
  • 2/3 C. Quinoa
  • 1/2 C. Navy Bean
  • 2/3 C. Lentles
  • 1/2 C. Chickpeas/ Garbanzo Beans
  • 5/8 C. Popcorn
  • 2/3 C. Kamut
  • 2/3 C. Millett

Nov 7, 2008

Food Storage Friday

Taco Soup.
Who can have a food storage and not make Taco Soup. It is an all time favorite soup at our house, and my kids just devour it. I seem to not be able to make it often enough. Best of all almost everything in it comes from my food storage. I call it one of my dump and go recipes because I can just dump the ingredients into my stockpot or crock pot and practically walk away until it is done. This is my kind of recipe.

2 pounds ground beef or chicken
2 cups diced onions
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans or black beans
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chilies
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chillies
1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips, for serving
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, black olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese and green onions.

Nov 6, 2008

Magic Mix

I am going to share with you a recipe that comes from the USU Extension Office. I just love this mix. I have been using it for years to make all sorts of yummy foods. I will be using it a lot in later blogs, so have some ready. This mix does need to be refrigerated in an air tight container.


4 cups instant (or 2 1/3 cup non-instant) dry milk
1 cup flour or 1/2 cup cornstarch (I prefer using flour and it needs to be white flour not wheat.)
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine

Combine dry milk, flour and margarine into a large bowl and mix until it looks like cornmeal. I like to put it in my mixer with my whisk beaters. It makes it much easier and only takes about 30 seconds. Keep mix tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes 5 cups.

I will share with your our first recipe using the Magic Mix.

White Sauce :

For thin sauce: 1/3 cup Magic Mix and 1 cup water.
For medium sauce: 1/2 cup Magic Mix and 1 cup water.
For thick sauce: 2/3 cup Magic Mix and 1 cup water.

Stir over medium heat until smooth and thick. You can also add in any spices to your white sauce to change the flavor. Try adding broth in place of water for a wonderful gravy. Yield 1 cup.

Nov 4, 2008

Tuesday Tip Day

Making Soap Last Longer

Have you ever wanted to make your bars of soap last a bit longer? Are you tired of finding your soap all soggy in the bath? Do I have the solution for you! I like to unwrap my bars and place them in a bucket. Whenever I purchase a pack of soap I just unwrap all of them and drop them into a 5 gallon bucket. Don't place the bucket lid back on the bucket. Just take a towel and drape it over the bucket. This will help keep dust and particles off the soap. Let the soap sit and it will slowly dry out. It will become very hard and may crack but it is ok. When you want to use your soap just grab a bar and use it like you normally would. You will be surprised at how much longer a bar of soap will last. It won't get that soft sliminess to it. It will also help down the road if you have to grate soaps to make your own laundry detergent. I have a big 5 gallon bucket full of hard soaps ready for use at anytime.

Nov 2, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

My family just loves yogurt. They can go through a lot in one week. Sometimes that's all they want to eat for breakfast or a snack. They each have one yogurt sometime during the day. I have found the perfect recipe for making homemade yogurt out of POWDERED MILK from my food storage. I personally buy only one kind of powdered milk. Its is Country Cream 100% REAL Instant Powdered Milk. It is known world wide as the very best Instant Milk anywhere.. It is rich and creamy and tastes so much like fresh milk. It doesn't have that nasty powdered milk after taste to it. In fact my 6 year old son prefers it to store bought milk. He always asks me "Mom is this your milk or the stores milk?" I think it is so adorable. I purchase my milk from Grandmas Country Store.

I love making homemade yogurt because I know what is in it. There is no artificial flavors or preservatives. I know it is low fat and its good for my family. It was lot easier making yogurt than I ever imagined it could be. You only need a few simple ingredients to make your own yogurt at home. This will make 1 Quart of yogurt.
  • 2 Quart Sauce Pan
  • Thermometer
  • 3 1/2 Cup of Powdered Instant Milk ( 2 cups non instant)
  • 8 Cups of warm Water
  • 3/4 Cup of commercial plain yogurt with live cultures. I like to use Dannon. You will want this to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so it doesn't shock the milk. Or some yogurt reserve that you have already made. (it needs to be plain)
  • 6-8 Half Pints or something to put the yogurt in.
  • Jams or flavorings
In a saucepan I take my 8 Cups of water and add it to 1 Cup of powdered milk. I whisk it together until it is all incorporated. If I am making this into vanilla yogurt I would add 1/3 Cup of Sugar and 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla but today I just wanted plain yogurt. You will then want to scald the milk. (You don't want to boil the milk.) I bring it up to 180 degrees and it is perfect. A trick to knowing when milk is scalded, is to watch for tiny bubbles to appear around the edge of your pan. If the milk seems to raise a bit and you start to see steam you know it is scalded. Immediately remove from the heat. You will want to let this sit until it cools to 100 degrees.

While I wait for my milk to cool I prepare my jars. I like to flavor my yogurt because my family likes it better than plain yogurt. Sometimes I flavor them with fruit. Today I just took some strawberry banana jam that I had made earlier and place a few tablespoons on the bottom of my containers. Make sure that whatever you add to your yogurt is at room temperature. If it is to hot or cold it will ruin your culture and your yogurt will not turn out right.
After my milk has cooled down I will add my yogurt culture. It is very important that you add the culture when your milk is at 100 degrees. Immediately after adding the cutler and mixing together pour the milk into your jars. I like using half pints or plastic ball jars. Use whatever container that you can close tightly . If I want to make a lot of yogurt at one time. I just use a quart jar.

I have a yogurt maker because I make yogurt so much. I make it about every other day. What you don't have a yogurt maker? There are a few solutions to this. The

  1. You can rap your jars in a blanket or towel and place them in a cooler for insulation to keep warm.
  2. You can place them in your oven with the oven light on and this will keep it warm enough. (but remember you can't use your oven for about 10 hours.)
  3. If you have a dehydrator with a heating element, you can place them inside on a shelf.
  4. Place on top of a heating pad on the counter and turn it to low. Cover it with a towel.

Wherever you decide to place your yogurt you will need to leave it undisturbed for 9-10 hours. And it must say slightly warm for the cultures to grow. I like to do this right before bedtime so that my yogurt is done when I wake up in the morning. You will still need to refrigerate the yogurt for 3-4 hours before eating. It makes a great after school snack for the kids. Remember to save 3/4 cup of plain yogurt that you just made for your next batch. You should get a new culture after a couple of months to refresh your yogurt. This yogurt will last about a week in the refrigerator. If it's not eaten before then.

If you don't want to make yogurt using powdered milk you can always use store bought milk.
You cannot use Morning Moo because it is a milk substitue and not truely milk. Tip: If you find that your yogurt is a bit thin. (each powdered milk is different) Try adding a bit more powdered milk and it should thicken.