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Buttery-Soft Beer Bread

One of my all-time favorite recipes on this blog is for Buttery Beer Bread, which is slightly sweet with a delicious yeasty flavor, and a thick, crunchy, and buttery crust.  The only downside to it is that it is best fresh from the oven and does not store well, so it’s a little hard to fit into a diet plan because we usually end up splitting the whole loaf between us and polishing it off in one sitting.  (Avoiding dry leftover bread is perfection justification for the overindulgence, no?)  If you’ve made this bread, you know that eating half a loaf of it is a lot easier to manage than one would imagine.  In the interest of trying to shrink our midsections, however, we try not to pull that stunt too often.

Deciding I needed a soft beer bread that stored well so that we could enjoy it for several days versus five minutes, I instinctively knew (well, hoped may be the better word) all I had to do was add an egg and blend the butter in with everything else instead of pouring it over the top.  And voilà!  I was right.  I love being right.  Especially when it results in something so delicious!

This bread has the same flavor I fell in love with in the original beer bread, the beer giving it a nice yeasty flavor despite this being a quick bread containing no yeast (another bonus-fresh bread in under an hour!).  But it is a million times prettier (smooth top versus major bumpiness), the texture is velvety soft when fresh from the oven, and the crust still has just a bit of that buttery crunch to it.  And it fulfills the reason for the modification: it stores well and stays soft and moist!

While I might still make the original if we have company over since there would be less risk of leftovers, and I adore that thick, crunchy & buttery crust, this is the one I’ll be making most often because the texture is so wonderful and its ability to stay that way upon storage robs me of the justification for polishing off an entire loaf in one sitting.  Which I may not be so thankful for, but my hips surely are.

*Despite this loaf storing well, we still ate half of it as soon as it was out of the oven, so I only had half a loaf (OK, maybe a little less than half, truth be told) to photograph the next day.  Sorry.  Our stomachs got in the way of the interests of my blog!  At least we didn’t eat the whole thing this time. At least not all at once.  :)

Buttery-Soft Beer Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 cups self-rising flour*
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12-oz) can beer
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk the flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Add beer, butter, and the egg, and whisk well to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

*I know it’s weird, but I really feel I get the best results using self-rising flour for this bread. However, if you do not have it, you can replace it with 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 Tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt instead. I recommend using a baking powder without aluminum, such as Rumford, particularly in this recipe since you need so much of it. The aluminum has an aftertaste and can foul up baked goods which call for quantities in excess of 1 teaspoon.

Update 2/18/15: I’ve discovered you can substitute honey for the sugar with delicious results as well, lending a light honey-sweet taste to the bread.  Just look at how tender it is!



How To Make a Splatter-Proof Recipe Binder

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A couple years ago I got sick of the huge collection of recipes I had in different locations throughout my house.  A file in the filing cabinet marked “recipes.”  A couple binders with uncategorized hole-punched recipes that were falling out and splattered with batter and grease because I used the recipes so often.  A stack of them on my computer desk.  Fed up, I finally made a binder to keep my favorite tried-and-true recipes in.  The ones I make over and over again and want easy access to.

My friend, Teri, has a binder very similar and I just copied her idea to create my own.  I recently made a starter binder for a friend’s housewarming and took some pictures of the creation process so I could share this idea with you.


1 Presentation View Binder
Transparent Page Protector Sheets
Adhesive Index Tabs
Recipes printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper

For this project, I like to use a binder that has a transparent sheet over the top so you can put a “Title Page” inside of it, of your own design. Using page protector sheets to hold the recipes works well for recipes you use often, because the clear plastic protects the recipe. If you splatter it, you can just wipe it clean before returning the recipe to the binder.  It is also more durable and the holes won’t tear as easily as a paper with holes punched in it.

First, write your recipe categories on the paper tabs that come in the index tabs box. Most everyone will use different categories, depending on the type of recipes they use.  For instance, I not only have a “Desserts” category in my own, but also divided desserts into three subcategories: cake, pie, and cookies.  These are the basic categories you might want to include, adding more if you need to:

Appetizers & Snacks
Soups & Salads
Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Etc. (for beverages, condiments, etc.)

Slip the papers into your tabs and then arrange them in the order you want them to appear in your binder. Put enough page protector sheets in the binder for all the tabs. Remove the backing from the first category you want to use and slip it over the side of the first plastic sheet at the very top, then squeeze so it sticks.

These are quite easy to remove if you mess up or want to change how high or low the tab is positioned, so don’t fret if it’s not exactly how you want it. Gently pry it off and adjust it. Repeat the process with the remaining tabs, placing each one on the sheet below the last and a bit lower on the side so it shows beneath the tab before it. Soon you will have a binder that looks like this:

If you like, you can create title pages for each recipe category, as I did. I searched for images using Google, then copied the ones I liked into a Word document and used the same font that I used on the front of my binder to type the category title below the photo.

To create the title page, I did the same thing and searched for a picture I liked (I remember searching for cooking related coloring pages and liked the old-time feel of the one I chose). For the side title, I printed it in a Word document in landscape format in the middle of the page, then folded it to fit the pocket, and with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally managed to get it in. It is difficult to get a paper in that tight spot, so you definitely want to use a folded paper for its sturdiness, or cardstock.

All that’s left is to fill the binder with recipes!

I have this slow cooker enchilada chile recipe posted here.

I put my blank page protector sheets in the front of my binder, before the recipes so that when I want to add a new one, I slip it in, then put it in the correct spot in my binder. I give each recipe its own sheet to make it easier to alphabetize them, therefore they are easier to find, but eventually I will have to start putting two recipes into each protector sheet (one facing forward, one backward) so that it doesn’t get too thick.

That’s about all there is to it! Very simple and quick.  What system do you use for organizing your recipes?  I also have about a million and a half saved to my computer into folders with different recipe categories!

Homemade Deodorant

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You’d be surprised the conversations you get involved in at church.  The teens are talking about the “Ponzi scheme” of social security, while one sister is talking about how knitting can “tighten your bosom” if you do it enough (knitting, that is), another is recommending Robitussin for infertility (really??), and two others are talking about how much they love their homemade deodorant while you’re trying to ignore the bloody photos & details of a hunting trip some of your brothers just returned from.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ for all their diversity!  And thanks to two of them, I found out how to make my own deodorant and so will you.

Many are concerned about the aluminum found in store-bought deodorants, afraid that daily use will raise the aluminum levels in our bodies above what is healthy.  The reason deodorants contain aluminum is to actually prevent perspiration, which is the only down-side to making your own deodorant.  If you’re hot enough to sweat, you will still sweat.  But at least you won’t smell!  And sweating is actually a very healthy thing, allowing your body to release chemicals and toxins through your pores.

Like I mentioned in one of my Thankful Thursday posts, this homemade deodorant passed the ultimate test for me: teaching Sunday school.  I’m not a very stinky or sweaty person even without deodorant, and with it I’m always fresh as a daisy, except on the Sunday mornings that I’m teaching Sunday school.  It’s ridiculous, but I’m totally intimidated by children when I’m supposed to be in a position of authority.  I love playing with kids, having fun with them, but when I’m supposed to be their superior and not their colleague, hoping that I sound like I know what I’m talking about, and required to discipline them if necessary, I almost can’t handle it.   (One big reason it might be a blessing that I’m not a mother!)  Before the homemade deodorant, I always stunk to high heaven after teaching Sunday school, but when I went in wearing the homemade stuff, I came out smelling just as shower-fresh as before!

So, it definitely is an effective deodorant.  As for the look and feel of it, it does not compare to the invisible types, but depending on how thick you make it, can actually be less visible than traditional stick-deodorants.  The first batch I made quite thick, only adding enough coconut oil to make the consistency like a thick, whipped frosting, and it went on a little thick when applied.  The second batch I made thinner so that I could actually pour it into the deodorant tube (the first batch I scooped and smashed into it), and while I have to keep it in the fridge so that it stays solid, it goes on very thin and smooth so I like it better that way.  I find I only need a very light smear of it, which means it lasts much longer than regular deodorant.  This may differ from person to person, and your mileage may vary.

While reading other reviews of this type of deodorant, I found that extra virgin coconut oil is ideal, as it is antifungal and antibacterial, which boosts the odor-eliminating power of the deodorant.   I also discovered that some people are sensitive to baking soda and can get a rash from it, so you may have to tinker with the recipe to reduce it (and upping the cornstarch as you do) until you get a formula that your body likes.  If your skin starts to get dark under your arms and starts to itch, this is a skin yeast infection which one person said is caused by the baking soda (I tend to think it would be the cornstarch since it is something that yeast could feed off of, but I don’t know).  If this happens to you, get a generic athlete’s foot cream to clear it up.  I have had this happen before for a different reason, and found that Lotrimin (I got generic) worked best for me, clearing it up in just a few days.  Go back to your regular deodorant until it’s cleared up, then tinker with your recipe to adapt it until it no longer has this effect.  You could even try putting Lotrimin in the mixture.

OK, so here’s the church lady-inspired homemade deodorant recipe!  Up next, how to naturally give your bosom a lift while learning to knit! ;)

Homemade Deodorant

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Printable recipe with picture

3 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons arrow root powder or cornstarch
3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, heated just enough to become fairly liquid
Tea tree oil (a natural antifungal), and/or other essential oils for fragrance (optional)

Start with an empty deodorant tube.  If yours still has deodorant in it, just roll it up and pull it off the base.  Reusing the container and wasting the deodorant is cheaper than buying a brand new empty container by itself, because you don’t have to pay for shipping.

Be sure to wind the base down to the bottom before filling.

Whisk the baking soda and arrow root powder or cornstarch together in a bowl until lump-free and fine.

Add the oil…

and stir with a spoon until incorporated, then whisk it up until smooth.

Add your essential oil(s) in now to reach your desired fragrance, then add additional coconut oil or dry ingredients of equal measure as necessary to achieve your desired consistency.  Pour or pack into an empty deodorant tube and refrigerate until solid.

This may be stored at room temperature, but if you made the mixture very thin, you will have to keep it in the refrigerator if you want to apply it as a solid rather than a cream.

Chili-Cheese Dog Casserole

I’m just going to go ahead and apologize right now before I go any further.  I’m sort of on a comfort food (i.e. high calorie, delicious, and unhealthy food) kick right now, perhaps because the weather is getting cooler, and there is absolutely nothing healthy about this.  Actually, you could make it significantly healthier depending on what type of ingredients you choose to use (low-fat turkey chili, nitrate-free turkey hot dogs, reduced fat cheese, whole wheat tortillas), but I’m not going to lie and tell you I made any of those choices.  This is pure, delicious, evil.

I really had no choice.  The recipe, which originates from Allrecipes, has been haunting me for three years now.  I first ran across it on MySpace when a friend, Kimberly V., blogged the recipe.  Then Debbi blogged the recipe a few months ago, reminding me that I wanted to try it.  I prefer to eat healthy & lighter meals to balance the decadent desserts I make (and eat!) on a much too regular basis, so I had been fighting it the whole time, trying to forget I ever saw it.   But I finally buckled under the pressure of Debbi’s delicious pictures.

I’m not going to lie and tell you I regret it, either.  Like I said, pure, evil, deliciousness.  And it can’t get any easier than this!

Chili-Cheese Dog Casserole

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2 (15 oz.) cans chili with beans
1 (16 oz.) package hot dogs
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 (8 oz.) package cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with oil and spread 1 can of chili over the bottom . Roll up hot dogs inside tortillas and place in baking dish, seam side down, on top of chili layer. Top with remaining can of chili and sprinkle with cheese. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

*Veronica’s notes: I have no idea what size my casserole dish is, but I know it’s a couple inches smaller on each side than a 9×13 and the dogs fit perfectly in it.  I found my chili didn’t go very far, so I added a can of salsa-style fire roasted tomatoes & green chiles in puree to the top along with the chili. A can of Rotel, as Debbi used, would be perfect. I highly recommend shredding your own cheese to get a magnificent gooey melt. If your cheese is going to come into contact with the foil you place on top, generously spray the foil on one side with oil and place that side down over the pan, otherwise the cheese will stick to your foil and come off when you remove it.

Recipe source: Allrecipes

Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

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I like to have an arsenal of easy emergency recipes on hand for gifts, and recently added this one because I happened to have a caramel cake mix and dulce de leche in my cupboard when I was scrambling to get something ready for a friend with a birthday, who I was going to see later in the day.  If you can’t find caramel cake mixes in your grocery store, you can request them at your customer service counter like I do, or purchase them online.

Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Printable recipe
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1 (18.25 oz) Duncan Hines caramel cake mix
2 eggs
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup water
1 (12 oz) package semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 (14 oz) can dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 375 ºF.. Spray a 9×13 dish with oil. Combine cake mix, eggs, water, brown sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended. Mixture will be thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in greased pan.

Bake for 24 to 27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While it’s still hot and fresh from the oven, spread dulce de leche over the top and sprinkle chocolate chips over that. Wait five minutes, then use a butter knife or spatula to swirl the chocolate into the caramel. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars.

Recipe source: adapted from Duncan Hines

Homemade Miracle Whip & Tartar Sauce

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OK, which side are you on?  Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?  In our house, my husband goes for the mayo, and I reach for the whip.  I just love the sweet tanginess of it!  So when I discovered how easy making my own mayonnaise was, I very quickly adapted it to taste like my preferred sandwich spread.  I don’t know what took me so long to share it with you.  Enough delaying, here you go!

Homemade Miracle Whip

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 ½ cups flavorless oil

Place all ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Have the oil measured and at hand. Turn on the food processor and pour the oil through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream. Gradually increase the flow until all oil is in the mixture. Continue to process until a thick mixture. Refrigerate.

To make tartar sauce, stir in finely chopped onion and dill relish (or finely chopped pickles), as much as you desire. I think I added 3 tablespoons of each to about half the Miracle Whip recipe.  It’s so yummy with fish sticks!

Trash Jambalaya {aka Mongolian Massacre}

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I hate it when my husband raves over a meal.  OK, I don’t hate the raving, but I hate the meals he chooses to rave over.  I can make the most delicious butternut squash ravioli, shrimp and scallop scampi with linguini, or the world’s best salmon (according to me, at least), but what does he think beats that?  This.  This stuff I am choosing to call “trash.”

OK, so it is good trash, but it kinda drives me crazy that he prefers things like this, that is just a bunch of stuff thrown together, rather than something beautiful and refined. MEN!

But he makes up for it with his sense of humor.  When I asked him what I should call this meal, he said, without hesitation, “Mongolian Massacre.”  (?!)  When I asked why, he said, “Because it’s cool!”

Gotta love him.

Jambalaya Trash

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1 (8 oz) box Jambalaya-style rice mix
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 (15.25 oz.) can corn, drained well
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s), or to taste

Follow the package directions for the rice with only 1 tablespoon of oil and without adding any meat, but start it in at least a 3-quart pot so there’s room for the meat mixture later on.

After you’ve got the water heating to a boil for the rice, start on your beef mixture. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the ground beef, onion, and green pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat, until meat it cooked through. Drain off all the juices and then stir in the tomatoes, corn, and a teaspoon of Creole seasoning. By this time you should already have your rice and seasoning packet in the water and it’s probably got another ten minutes or more of cooking time left. Go ahead and throw the beef mixture on top and stir it all up. Replace the lid and increase the heat if necessary to get it simmering again, then turn it down to finish cooking. When the timer for the rice goes off, stir and add additional seasoning to taste. This stuff comes out of the pot at a million degrees Farenheit so you might want to serve it on plates so that it cools faster because you’re going to want to inhale it, even if it is trash.

Serves 4-6

Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 354 calories; 9 g fat; 49 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 22 g protein; 9 Points Plus.

Recipe by Veronica Miller, inspired by Natasha’s Kitchen

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

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Hummus and tabouli are my favorite sides to serve with Lebanese fare.  Not only are they simple to make, but crazy delicious!  My Mom’s tabouli consists predominantly of bulgar wheat, and most recipes I’ve found are the same, but I noticed when I ordered it at restaurants, it was mostly parsley with a tiny bit of bulgar in it.  Not only is this lower in calories (bonus!), but I actually prefer the taste.    The parsley and lemon make for a very refreshing salad!  Here’s my version of restaurant-style tabouli.

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with link

3 bunches parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fine bulgar wheat
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover, and let sit overnight before serving.  There is no need to cook the bulgar, as it will absorb moisture from the salad and become tender in a few hours.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 76 calories; 3 g fat; 12 g carbohydrates; 3.5 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe by Veronica Miller

I used red onions in the first picture, and white onions in this one. You can also use green onions, if you prefer.

On a personal note: I’m leaving to visit friends in Texas so this is the last recipe I’ll be posting for a while.  I know I’m not a regular poster anyway, so you guys won’t even miss me!  Nevertheless, I will return later next week with some sweets & savories for you. You’re in for a few treats! :)

Incredible 2-Hour Turkey & Other Thanksgiving Ideas

This recipe turned out the juiciest turkey I’ve ever had, including my Mother’s incredible brined turkey.  It has wonderful flavor and I love that it only requires two hours of roasting.

If you are looking for any other last minute Thanksgiving Day recipe ideas, continue below the recipe for a few I have on my blog.

Incredible 2-Hour Turkey

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1 (18-22 pound*) turkey
Carrots, celery (cut into large chunks), onion (peeled and cut into large chunks), garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
Brown paper bag

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Meanwhile, remove giblets and neck and wash the turkey. Fill the cavity of the turkey with carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Combine the lemon juice, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. With your hands, rub the entire turkey with the lemon juice mixture.

Place the turkey breast down (this is opposite of how a turkey is normally cooked – so just flip the turkey upside down) in a large roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the hot oven for as many minutes as the turkey weighs (ie. 19 lb. turkey = 19 minutes). Bake for the allotted time.

Meanwhile, grease a large brown paper bag with butter on both sides. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully (because the turkey and roasting pan are HOT) make a tent out of the paper bag and drape it over the turkey, taking care to tuck the sides of the bag into the roasting pan (otherwise, the butter will drip off the bag, leap onto the oven burner and possibly create a large fire.). Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and cook the turkey for two hours.

Remove the roasting pan and turkey from the oven and let turkey sit for 20 minutes. Remove turkey from the roasting pan and pour the drippings into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Make a slurry from flour and water (to the consistency of thick, heavy cream) and add to the drippings until desired consistency is reached.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.  Boil for a minute, still stirring constantly, until thickened.  Serve over the turkey.

*I used a 13 pound turkey and cut the cooking time down by 15 minutes. Perfect!

Recipe source: My Kitchen Cafe

More Thanksgiving ideas:

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Killer Cranberry Sauce

Incredible Dinner Rolls (bread machine)

Italian Green Beans

Sunny Vegetable Salad
Marissa’s Good Peas

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (come on, eat some salad! It will make you feel less guilty about the pie.)

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Meaty Quesadillas

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My friend Suzie shared this recipe on her “Food Fridays” blog a couple weeks ago and I  made it immediately.  Ground beef, strangely, is the only way I really like beef, and I love simple recipes.  Not to mention it’s not completely over-the-top calorie wise.  Win-win-win!

Oh yeah, and it’s good.  My husband says, “It’s really, really, really, really, really good!”  That’s the max amount of “really’s” he’s ever used so it’s gotta be good!

Meaty Quesadillas
Printable recipe

1 lb. lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
6 10-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar and pepper jack)
Salsa and/or sour cream, for serving

Cook the beef, garlic, chili powder, oregano, salt & ground pepper to taste over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink. Add the green onions and cook a few more minutes.

Heat a large griddle or nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and place 2 tortillas on the griddle (or 1 if using a skillet), and scatter ¼ cup of cheese on each. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Put a sixth of the beef mixture on half of each tortilla and fold into a half-moon. Continue to cook until the quesadillas are crisp, turning once. Repeat to make 6 quesadillas. Cut into wedges and top with salsa and/or sour cream.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Info (per serving, without salsa & sour cream): 461 calories; 27 g fat; 29 carb; 1 g fiber; 26 g protein.

Adapted from Food Network

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