New Recipe Monday — Snickerdoodle bread

It’s Christmas baking time at our house. I tried this recipe out last year and it was a hit!
Here is the recipe I used (with tweaks).
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 cup butter softened
· 2 cups sugar
· 3 eggs
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 3/4 cup sour cream
· 1 pkg. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips
· 3 TB sugar
· 3 tsp. cinnamon
1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
2. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
4. Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
5. Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full. I made it in 2 regular loaf pans and baked for about 50 minutes.
6. Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
This bread was way tasty! Cinnamon chips though are a seasonal item and usually only available at Christmas time. You can buy them online here
and make the cake during the rest of the year, something I totally plan on doing.

New Recipe Monday — Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch

A few weeks ago I traded some green onions for some rhubarb. I grew up eating rhubarb cobbler at the Sunday Potlucks in the mountains, but I’d never tried cooking it myself. The boys were skeptical about eating this after they’d tried rhubarb raw…I must say though their faces were priceless! I assured them though that they would love rhubarb once I made this recipe. So here it is…

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 253
Fat: 10.8g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Sodium: 78mg
Sugar: 24.6g
Carbohydrate: 38.1g
Fiber: 1.7g
Protein: 2.3g

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 cups diced rhubarb (I didn’t really measure, I just most of what I had)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries, and rhubarb. Place the mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats until crumbly (I doubled the recipe for the crunch as that’s usually our favorite part). You may want to use a pastry blender for this. Crumble on top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.
Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp and lightly browned.


New Recipe Monday — Chicken Fried Steak

Each year we buy half a beef and I’m never quite sure what to do with the minute/cube steaks we get. I’ve never been a big fan of them and I’ve had a hard time finding a recipe for chicken fried steak that our family likes. I tried this one last week and it was a huge hit with all of us!



  1. Pound the steaks to about 1/4-inch thickness (My cube steaks come pre-tenderized so I skipped this). Place 2 cups of flour in a shallow bowl. Stir together the baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a separate shallow bowl; stir in the buttermilk, egg, Tabasco Sauce, and garlic. Dredge each steak first in the flour, then in the batter, and again in the flour. Pat the flour onto the surface of each steak so they are completely coated with dry flour.
  2. Heat the shortening in a deep skillet. Fry the steaks until evenly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Place fried steaks on a plate with paper towels to drain. Drain the fat from the skillet, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid and as much of the solid remnants as possible.
  3. Return the skillet to medium-low heat with the reserved oil. Whisk the remaining flour into the oil. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release solids into the gravy. Stir in the milk, raise the heat to medium, and bring the gravy to a simmer, cook until thick, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the gravy over the steaks to serve.

After I had cooked the steaks, I put them on a cooling rack on a cookie sheet in a low (170 degree) oven to let the steaks drain, so they wouldn’t be greasy and to keep them warm. The batter made more than enough for the steaks we had, I cooked 8 of them using this and probably could have made 3-4 more using these ingredients. Like I said, this was a great recipe and our family loved it. I served it with a side of mashed potatoes and broccoli (we’re out of corn…) I also think this would be a great chicken fried steak to serve alongside eggs and hashbrowns.



New Recipe Monday — Refried beans, a makeover

A few weeks ago I was searching for a homemade refried beans recipe that I could make for our family. I came across this recipe and was fairly pleased with the results, while they were missing the fat of traditional refried beans, they also lacked a little flavor for my part.
This last week I made a slightly different recipe that I got from a woman at church. It’s not without the fat, but they were easy to make and have tasted so much better than the first batch. Here is the revised recipe… (unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of measurements because she didn’t give me any and it’s kind of a “taste” thing anyway).
4 cups dry pinto beans, cover with water and soak overnight in crockpot. In the morning…
Make sure beans are still covered with water, just enough to cover…you can add more if needed throughout the day (I didn’t drain mine, but I suppose you could and then add fresh water to cover).
Add some lard (yes lard, I have some on hand as I use it for a few things when I’m baking). I added a square that was equivalent to about 1/2 – 3/4 cup.
I added salt, about 3-4 tablespoons worth. To be honest I didn’t measure it, I made a little pile in my hand about the size of a quarter and dumped 4 of those in.
Then I added some garlic powder, about 1 tablespoon and some onion powder about 1 tablespoon. And cooked on low all day. I used garlic powder because I didn’t have fresh garlic and onion powder because I was in a bit of a hurry that morning and didn’t have time to cut one up.
I stirred the beans every so often and would taste to make sure it tasted okay. I didn’t add anything save for a bit of salt during the day.
When the beans were done, I didn’t drain any of the water because the last batch I made was a little too dry when I froze it. I just mashed up the beans with a hand masher (think old potato masher) until it was the consistency I liked. I like to have some partial beans in my refried beans, so I didn’t mash them in to oblivion.
Overall, I like this recipe so much better! Yes, it has the fat the other recipe was lacking, but it has the flavor too. Much more traditional flavor and you could add less salt although I think it could be a little bland then. This is going to be my “go to” recipe from now on.

New Recipe Monday — Crockpot refried beans without the refry

We eat a lot of beans at our house. Cheap source of protein and you can eat them a number of ways. I’ve been looking for a recipe to make my own refried beans, and since I have absolutely no Hispanic ancestory…I was kind of at a loss. I found a recipe similar to this one on but I modified the recipe to fit our family’s tastes. Here’s what I came up with and how it’s worked for us so far.
1 onion, peeled and halved
6 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic — I will add more next time
3 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin — definitely adding more next time probably close to 1 tsp.
Water to cover the beans.
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 (this process is a bit easier if the beans are cool, I just dipped the liquid out with a measuring cup). Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.
This recipe was really pretty easy to make and I didn’t have an old fashioned potato masher, so I ended up using my pastry cutter, which worked fine. I put the refried beans into plastic containers and froze them. We ate our first batch this last week.  A couple of points…they don’t have the fat content that the canned beans do and you kind of miss it at first, but overall our family really liked these. Next time I make a batch, I will be a little more heavy handed on the spices as this batch was a bit bland and needed a little salt when I reheated them, but the reviews for the recipe I read said they were too salty so I hesitated to put the full amount in this time. I think because I froze them they were drier than they would have been otherwise. So when I reheated them, I added a bit of milk and they were much creamier. This is definitely going to be a staple at our house, they were easy to make, tasted good and will be even better with a couple tweaks to the recipe. Below are some pictures of the process…

Just before cooking

These smelled so good cooking all day!

All mashed up and ready to eat or freeze

New Recipe Monday — Mom cheats

This isn’t a “new recipe” per se, but really just a mom cheat to make our budget stretch a little further.
I use beans a lot in our dishes at home, they stretch a dish and add some much needed protein to our diet too. I used to buy canned beans to use in recipes like soups, salads, casseroles and such. I hated throwing those cans away (there isn’t recycling here and you can only save so many tin cans for “homeschool” projects) and I really dislike the “juice” those beans come in. I’d always find myself rinsing them (making them healthier) before using them. Several months ago I thought I’d experiment a bit with dry beans, cooking them and then freezing them for later use. It worked great and the cost savings is wonderful!
I usually buy dry beans in 2lb bags (I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy the dry beans in the actual Hispanic section of the store…I can get bigger bags at a cheaper cost, often with the same company just Spanish on the bag rather than English). A 2lb bag usually costs around $3.00 (a 15oz can of beans usually costs around $1.00 here). I will dump two bags (4lbs total) in my crockpot and cover the beans with water, a little cumin, garlic powder and onion powder and turn it on high. Keep an eye on it though, you’re going to have to add more water…you want to keep them covered throughout the process. You wouldn’t have to add the spices, but I like the flavor in the beans especially if I decide to use them in a salad. I usually cook the beans all day long, about 8-10 hours, making sure to keep them covered in water.
There are two options here, you can cook your beans until they’re completely done (softer texture), which I usually do because I use them without cooking them again pretty frequently. The other option is to cook them just under-done, if you’re going to cook them before you eat them. I prefer to cool the beans (I just remove the whole crock and put it in the fridge for the next day), you don’t have to but it does make them easier to work with. Once they’re cool, I will rinse them in a colander and bag them in freezer safe bags with 4 cups of beans to a bag (the equivalent to 2 cans). I then freeze these bags and thaw before using. It works great and no one can tell the difference.
From the original 2 bags of dry beans I get around 8 bags of cooked beans, which means about 16 cans of beans total. So essentially for $6.00 I get $16.00 worth of canned beans, without the preservatives and minimize the waste without the cans, and I can often rinse and re-use the bags for my next batch.
So far I’ve used this process with kidney beans (no spices added), black beans and pinto beans and it’s worked beautifully.

New recipe Monday — Cookie Dough dip

I was searching for recipes this week to serve for our Christmas open house and ran across a recipe for cookie dough dip. It was was pretty tasty and really easy to make!
Cookie Dough Dip
1 brick cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toffee chips (optional, I didn’t have these so didn’t include them but will next time)
Mix all together. Chill in fridge before serving and top with chocolate chips. The cream cheese and butter mix better when softened slightly.
I served this dip with Graham crackers, animal crackers and apples.

New Recipe — Bierocks

I grew up in a small town in South Central Kansas. Small enough that we had lunch ladies (I should say moms, as most of them had kids in school with us) that made our lunch homemade and fresh everyday. I can still remember the smell of lunch cooking as we walked the halls between classes. There were some definite favorites and the lunches we had are some of my favorite memories. My husband and I enjoyed school lunch so much that a couple of years ago when we had the chance to visit my mother in law at school during the lunch hour, we ate school lunch with her and our boys. It was just as much fun as a grown up as it was as a kid, complete with chocolate milk from the cardboard carton.
I was so delighted when the PTA came out with a cookbook from the grade school several years ago and my mother in law bought me one as a Christmas gift. It has so many of my favorite recipes from school lunches and it’s been fun to make them for our boys who have their “school lunch” around our dining room table. This recipe is a German Mennonite recipe and one of our favorite school lunches ever. I haven’t perfected it as well as the ladies who made them for the entire school, but they sure bring back memories. (I should say some of the recipes in the cookbook are still the “big” group recipes used in the school, including this one so I had to do some calculating to bring down the ratios)
3lbs hamburger
1 onion chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 head cabbage shredded (I process mine in the food processor)
4 cups shredded American cheese (I’ve used cheddar, and usually add a bit more)
Brown beef, onion, salt and pepper in skillet. Chill in fridge. I usually add my cabbage to the mixture and chill it all together in the fridge while I make my dough.
8-9 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp salt
1 package  yeast
3 1/2 cup warm water (95-100 degrees)
2 eggs
1/2 shortening (I used butter)
Mix all together. Dough will be soft but shouldn’t be very sticky. Pinch dough into 2oz balls (I have no idea how big this really is, really I just make them about the size of a golf ball or plum). Let rest briefly. Flatten with hands into a circle, if the dough sticks to your hands dust them with flour. Place scoop of meat mixture in center (usually 2-3 TBLS or so…about an ice cream scoop). Pull dough up and pinch edges together. Place pinched side down on paper lined pans (or you can grease the pans). Let rise (45 min-1 hour), mine don’t get big like rolls…maybe I don’t let them rise long enough but usually by this point I’m pretty darn hungry for bierocks). Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes or until light brown. They do freeze well.
Kerry and the boys like them with ketchup, but I prefer mine with mustard. They are wonderful! I’m still working on making them look “pretty” like they did in school, but they still taste good. To make it a classic “school lunch” serve with dill pickle, corn and oatmeal cookie.
**I did read in another recipe in the same cookbook that you can roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut in rectangles then fill and pinch as above. I may try this next time to save a little time**


New Recipe Monday — Pumpkin Bread

It’s fall and the cooler weather has been wonderful for baking. One of our family’s favorite fall recipes is Pumpkin bread. This recipe is different from any other recipes I’ve seen and it comes from an Amish cookbook I was given as a gift (by the way, if you ever want to know what to get me…cook books. They’re my favorite, especially church or community cookbooks).
Here it is…
3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin (cooked fresh or canned) I usually use a large can when I make my recipe.
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
12 ounces peanut butter chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I omit these as my husband doesn’t care for nuts)
1 cup raisins (I omit these too)
Grease and flour 3 loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2).
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, blend pumpkin with oil, water and eggs.
Add the dry ingredients gradually until well blended.
Stir in the chips, nuts, and raisins.
Pour into loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
I have also used butterscotch chips, which my husband prefers (I like the peanut butter ones). This bread is especially good with a little honey butter or plain for breakfast. We made “homemade” butter last year for a homeschool project and ate it on this pumpkin bread. The boys loved it!
PS. I made this last week and completely forgot to take a picture, rather than risk infringing on someone else, you’ll just have to make it yourself. 🙂

New Recipe Monday — Guest Post

No bake cookies are one of my favorite cookies to make, they are super easy and really delicious, and they are a good source of fiber. I have given this classic cookie a lot of thought. Everyone uses cocoa and peanut butter for the main ingredients, but what about adding a special twist to the no bake cookie? I want to share a no bake cookie recipe with you that gets rave reviews from everyone I share them with.
Double Dark No Bakes
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
3 teaspoons of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
1 cup dark chocolate peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats (quick oats)
In a medium sauce pan bring the milk, cocoa, sugar and butter to a steady boil, allow it to boil for about 90 seconds. Remove from heat and add vanilla and peanut butter stir until the peanut butter is melted. Add the oats and mix well. Drop by a spoonful onto waxed paper. Allow to cool and harden before serving. Enjoy!
Sara McKibben Lehman writes the Sweet Silly Sara blog. She is a proud Mommy to one, a wife, a college student and a homemaker with a passion for the environment.