Sunday, March 24, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer


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Even though the calendar says it is spring we are bracing for another winter storm.  We are now under a winter storm warning and could get 5 to 10 inches of snow by tomorrow.  I am so ready for the snow to be done!  It seemed everyone in Clark County got the snow memo yesterday because when I went to the store it was packed as if it were Christmas.

Billy was home this weekend to visit.  I always like to make a big dinner for the kids when they are home.  I knew early yesterday that he would be leaving before dinner today because of the pending snow.  So yesterday afternoon I was in the kitchen most of the day.  I was making cookie trays for a funeral at Church tomorrow and also making today's dinner so Billy could take it back with him and heat it up tonight.

Saturday we had Pork Loin in Gravy and for tonight Billy has a Roast, Carrots, Green beans and Mashed potatoes to heat up.  I love being able to put my roast in the crock pot covered with beef broth and carrots on low for about 8 hours.  It just falls apart and is so good.  Since I knew he was going back early I put my roast in the crock pot before I went to bed and when I got up it was done and ready to pack up.

I guess I better get back to this coffee creamer.  I was roaming around on blog hops this week and came across a recipe for homemade coffee creamer.  I found it on the blog Mrs Happy Homemaker  She has over 2 Dozen different flavor varieties.  She used sweetened condensed milk in hers but I need to have either sugar free or creamer with a sugar substitute.  I found a recipe on all for homemade sweetened condensed milk and I used my Splenda Blend in place of the sugar.

When I first read the recipe for the sweetened condensed milk, I was like are you kidding me 6 tablespoons of butter.  I did not want bits of butter floating around in my creamer.  So I did soften my butter before I put it in the blender but I wonder now if when I added the boiling water if that would have melted it anyways?  Either way my creamer is a smooth creamy mixture with out any lumps of butter.  Mrs Happy Homemaker also says you have choices as to use Milk or Cream.  I used half and half in mine.  To see Mrs Happy Homemaker blog with her recipes you can click  HERE

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
source: adapted from All Recipes

3/4 C boiling water
6 T butter, softened
1/2 C Splenda Blend (if using regular sugar use 1 C )
2 2/3 C nonfat dry milk powder

Combine water, butter, Splenda (or sugar) and milk powder.  Blend until thickened, 2 minutes.  Store in refrigerator.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer
source: adapted from Mrs Happy Homemaker

1 recipe of the homemade sweetened condensed milk from above (if using store bought 1 14oz can)
1 3/4 C Milk or Cream ( I used half and half)
2 t vanilla
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (cut open bean and scrape out the seeds with a knife and put in mixture)

Mix all together.  I made the sweetened condensed milk in my blender and when I was done making the milk I just added all these other ingredients and blended well.  Keep in refrigerator.  I am not sure how long it will keep but I am guessing if you use fresh cream/half and half/milk then it would be good for 2 weeks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caramel Irish Cream Cheesecake with salted Caramel Sauce


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I have entered The Spiked Recipe Challenge for March with This Gal Cooks and Frugal Foodie Mama.

The Challenge was to use Irish Cream in a recipe that is not a drink.  I had never tried Irish Cream until I bought it for this challenge.  After opening the bottle Bill and I were not crazy about the smell.  In the cheesecake though it is divine.   The cheesecake has a little texture of chocolate but a smooth creamy taste.  The granola crust is really good.  I bought some granola in Amish Country when Cally and I visited a few weeks ago.  This granola taste just like crunchy graham crackers.  So instead of using regular graham cracker crumbs which are real fine powder, I decided to use this crunchy granola.  In the picture below you can see how crunchy it is.

I used a very simple caramel sauce.  It is just store bought caramels melted in the microwave then you add a heaping teaspoon of sour cream.  The sour cream smooths out the caramel and keeps it runny instead of it getting sticky as it cools down.  I also use this sauce for dipping apples.

I sprinkled the top of my piece of cheesecake with sea salt to get the sea salt caramel taste.  I did not add the salt to the caramel in case others did not like salty caramel.  I thought the salty taste and the sweetness of caramel along with the whipping cream was delicious!!!

Irish Cream Cheesecake

1 1/2 C granola
1/4 C melted butter
1/4 C sugar

1 1/2 blocks (6oz) White Chocolate squares
1/4 C whipping cream
3 (8oz) Cream Cheese
1 C Sugar
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
1/2 C Bailey's Irish Cream (I used Caramel flavored)
1/4 C flour

Salted Caramel Topping:
12 caramels
1 heaping teaspoon sour cream
sea salt for garnishing

Whipping Cream:
1 C heavy whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust:  Mix granola, sugar and melted butter together and press in the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Filling:  Place white chocolate and whipping cream in sauce pan and melt over medium heat.  Once melted let cool to room temperature.

Mix together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy.  Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix well.  Add the eggs and mix until well combined.  Then add the vanilla and Irish Cream until well mixed together.  Add the flour and mix until smooth.  Pour batter over the crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Turn off oven and open the door, let cake remain in the oven for 20 minutes.

To make the salted Caramel sauce, place caramels in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Once melted add the heaping teaspoon of sour cream and mix well.  This helps the caramels thin out and stay smooth.  If you wish when serving you can sprinkle sea salt on top of the caramel.

whipped topping:

whip 1 C heavy whipping cream until peaks almost form.  Add 2 T powdered sugar and 1/2 t vanilla, continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reuben Sandwich


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Reuben Sandwich

This is what I used to make 6 Reuben Sandwiches

12 slices Swirl Rye Bread
1 lb corned beef
3 C sour kraut
18 slices Swiss cheese
1000 Island Dressing for dipping

Split corned beef up into 6 even piles.  Put each pile onto a microwave safe dish and place about 1/2 C sour kraut on top (squeeze any juice out of the kraut) Microwave for 2 minutes or until corned beef and kraut are hot.

Butter 1 side of each slice of bread.  On a griddle (or frying pan) place the bread slices butter side down.  On top of each slice place Swiss cheese.  Take the corned beef/kraut from the microwave and place on a slice of bread.  Continue to grill the bread until it is brown.  Once it is brown to your liking place a bread slice on top of each corned beef/kraut slice.

Serve hot with 1000 Island Dressing.

I have shared this blog post on Gooseberry Patch Recipe Round up

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meringue Kisses


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I received this recipe from my favorite Author, Catherine Anderson.  I have been reading Catherine's books for several years.  I recently was given the opportunity to be on an early release review team for her new book, Perfect Timing.  This was an awesome experience and one I hope will be available to me again.  As always I fell in love with this book just like every other book of Catherine's that I have read.  You will not be disappointed.

If you would like to find out more about Catherine and her books you can visit her at her website,   You can also read reviews on her newest book, Perfect Timing at 

The meringue kisses are really light and fluffy.  They are super easy to make.  I added a little green food coloring to mine (in the picture you can not really see the green color) for St. Patty's day.

Meringue Kisses:

source: Catherine Anderson

3 egg whites, room temp
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 
dab of color 

In glass or metal mixing bowl, whip whites at medium speed until just before they form soft peaks. Add cream of tartar. Continue to whip until soft peaks form. (Peaks will not hold their shape in soft peak stage, but you can see them try.) Continuously whipping at medium speed, add very fine sugar, one tablespoon at a time until all sugar is added. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. (Stiff peaks hold their shape.) Rub mixture between fingertips. If it feels grainy, whip until it feels smooth. Drop by teaspoon onto pastry-paper lined baking sheet. Put in 175 F. preheated oven (dehydrate selection on my oven) and leave for three hours. If you don't have a dehydrate function, set your oven to the lowest temperature. Check cookies after about two hours to see if they are dry all the way through. (The way to check is to pop one in your mouth!) Dry until crisp all the way through. After they are cool, store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fried Mush and Amish Country Trip


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This week that Cally has been on Spring Break has flown by.  Cally and I had planned on going to Amish Country on Wednesday but after hearing the snow forecast we decided to go on Thursday.

In the pictures above, Cally is in front of the post office in Berlin where we mailed out a couple packages of goodies for our cousins, Dudley and Ann, and also one to Billy at Ohio State.  The second picture is of some horse and buggies at the grocery store.  The third picture on the top row is of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheese.  The picture in the middle is of an Amish farm.  The bottom row 1st picture is of a stable at Walmart where the Amish can park their horse and buggies.  The middle picture is of Rainbow Sherbet Cheese and the last picture is a horse and buggy going down the road.

We visited our favorite bakery, Hershbergers.  They have the best fruit fry pies.  We also bought cinnamon rolls, granola, caramels, and the best oatmeal cream pies I have ever had.  I am going to have to try and figure out a recipe for these Oatmeal Cream Pies.

In Berlin we also hit our favorite bulk store.  I love buying spices in Amish County, you can find just about anything you are looking for and at super prices.  We spent a little time in the Antique Mall.  Cally and I love looking and buying antiques.  Cally found 2 cast iron skillets for a good price.  I could not believe some of the prices I was seeing on these skillets, anywhere from $14 to $120 for a 7 to 9 inch skillet.

When the kids were little Grandma Butts use to make us mush.  She would give it to us ready to be fried.  It was always the best mush we ever had.  After grandma passed away I came across this mush recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook and it seems to be the same or close to the same recipe that Grandma always used.  We have not had mush forever and Cally saw some in the grocery store in Amish Country and wanted it.  Then we decided to buy cornmeal and make our own mush.

Fried Cornmeal Mush
Betty Crocker

3/4 C cornmeal
3/4 C cold water
2 1/2 C boiling water
3/4 t salt

butter/oil/bacon fat for cooking (I usually fry my bacon first then fry my mush in my bacon grease.

Bring 2 1/2 C water to a boil.  Mix the cornmeal and cold water in a pot.  Whisk in the 2 1/2 C boiling water and the salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and begins to boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Grease a loaf pan.  Stir the thickened mush and pout into the loaf pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

You can unmold the entire loaf and carefully cut slices.  Dredge the slices in flour.  Pan fry in a bit of butter, oil or bacon grease until crispy.  Carefully turn and cook on the other side.

Serve with butter (if you like) and maple syrup.

This recipe is shared over at Saturday Dishes

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time to make the Donuts


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We are digging out after winter storm Saturn (yep, the Weather Channel had a name for this storm) came through last night and dumped around 7 inches of snow on us from 8pm last night until daylight this morning

This morning Cally and I made Donuts.  I love donuts!  Especially warm Donuts.  These are super easy to make as they are made from Jumbo Buttermilk Biscuits from a can.

These little buggers are so easy to make and oh so good.  My favorite is the powdered sugar donut holes.

Super Easy Donuts

1 can Jumbo Buttermilk Biscuits (I used Meijer brand)
Oil for frying
Toppings of your choice

Heat oil or deep fryer until oil reaches 350 degrees (I used a skillet and a candy thermometer)

Take each biscuit and flatten slightly, cut hole in center of each biscuit. Save the center for donut holes.

After oil reaches 350 degrees.  Carefully place the biscuits and donut holes in the oil and fry each side for about 30 seconds or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and then put toppings on warm donuts.

We used powdered sugar (these were my favorite) cinnamon sugar and glazed with sprinkles.  For the glazed donuts I put about 1/2 C of Vanilla can frosting in microwave for 20 seconds, or until a little runny.  Then dip your donuts in the glaze and sprinkle the tops.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pan Pizza baked in Cast Iron Skillet


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This is the best pizza I have ever had.  I know now why Grandma Sowards always used her cast iron skillet. I think everything taste better when cooked in a cast iron skillet.  So you probably guessed, I baked this pizza in my cast iron skillet.  I also baked it at a higher temperature than I normally do.  I have read you should bake your pizza at 500 degrees to make the cheese nice and bubbly.  The skillet also gets really hot and makes a nice crunchy bottom while the inside is nice and fluffy.

Cally and I made these pizzas for supper last night.  We also added our own touch to the preparations.  We greased the bottom of our skillets with oil and then sprinkled the bottom with garlic powder and sea salt. The taste of garlic with the hint of salt was really good.    We were in a hurry to get our pizzas done so we used Betty Crocker  Pizza Crust mix.  After having this crust I do not think I would ever make homemade bread crust again.

Pan Pizza

1 pizza dough mix
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
sea salt
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Make Pizza dough, We used Betty Crocker Pizza Crust mix but you can use your favorite dough.

Grease your skillet with oil and then sprinkle garlic powder and sea salt over the bottom.

Spread dough out in the pan and top with your favorite toppings (we used pizza sauce, shredded Italian 5 Cheese Blend, pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms)

After you have all your toppings on your pizza, place in oven and bake for 15 minutes