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I’m sitting here on the couch wishing I had a laptop, waiting for my cast iron saucepan I scored at DI or a yard sale a while back to finishing seasoning and remembered I promised I’d blog about my bread. If you want the recipe scroll now, if you enjoy my rambling keep reading.

Forever ago my Internet friends were all making no knead bread. I had zero free time and didn’t realize that was all I needed {kneaded?} I ignore the thread and pushed the thoughts of homemade bread out of my mind. Occasionally I’d make some in the bread maker or pick up some Rhodes dough so it smelled like I’d made bread. Very occasionally, almost beyond rarely. 
Then came my great master plan of having a few friends up to the cabin for dinner, which has to include Dutch oven potatoes {right?} so as I’m wondering if I can live up to Russell’s potatoes and start browsing Pinterest for recipes I discover a pin for Dutch Oven crusty bread and then realize its no knead bread and my research shows most no knead breads are almost exactly the same. Flour, water, salt, yeast and sitting overnight in something covered then baked in a covered Dutch oven that has been preheated in a 450* oven for 30 minutes then 10 to 15 minutes without the lid. You can embellish, bedazzle, and sparkle it up but the result is a crusty bread that is perfectly soft and chewy on the inside. Mmmm.  Heaven.

So I mix all the goods up and put them in Mom’s old Corning ware bowl with some plastic wrap and let it sit overnight and through a good chunk of today. After I dumped it out I realized I should be documenting this, good bad or ugly so I take a picture of my dough ball resting while the Dutch oven is heating up.

And there it sat for 30 minutes until it was  gently placed into the HOT Dutch oven. 

Now, this is where life and a low volume timer come into play. I missed the timer going off and when I realized my bread looked like this with a hollow thump sound so I pulled it out then. I don’t know how much better it would have been but I’ve been craving soft cheese, fondue, and potato soup to go with this. 
Doesn’t it look heavenly?  It tasted great too.

Super Easy Crazy Yummy Crusty Bread


3 Cups bread flour {or whatever flour was in my flour jar}
1 1/2 Cups water {not hot, you don’t want to kill the yeast}
1 teaspoon yeast {different recipes talked about different kinds of yeast in different amounts etc. I have a Tupperware jar marked “yeast” in my freezer and that’s what I used}
1 teaspoon salt
Mix dry ingredients together then add water and stir until combined well. Place in at least a 4 quart bowl with lid or cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature somewhere between 12-24 hours. 
When ready to bake heat oven to 450 and preheat Dutch oven and lid for 30 minutes. While Dutch oven is heating scrape dough onto well floured surface and form into a ball.  You don’t need to work the dough, just form it into a nice ball. Let rest while Dutch oven finishes heating. Gently place dough ball into Dutch oven {really you should be careful that sucker is HOT}

Bake with lid in place 45 minutes. Remove from Dutch oven and allow to cool before cutting. 
Enjoy!
{Heather} 

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If I wasn’t feeling like I’d already picked it up from Russell’s house at Christmas, I think tonight I’d be looking for the crazy cat lady starter kit to order.  Today I was made aware of a mid-singles dance in St George tonight.  Those of you who don’t know me, I don’t dance very well.  I love to swing dance and I love the idea of dancing but it’s not my comfort zone, unless I have a swing partner that I know can make up for my lack of grace and even then I’m not certain comfort zone would be the best word choice.  I had a few hours to either talk myself into or out of it.

What does a girl do when faced with a choice like this?  She turns to friends, and this being a sensitive-ish topic and considering one friend is very busy right now I had two choices.  DiAnna who would have made me go, without a doubt including showing up on my doorstep to help me get ready (really, I think she does that just so I don’t back out of things I’m not certain I want to do) or the friend I did text.  Sorry DiAnna, and I know that you’re one of like 3 people who read my blog so yes, I’m ready and waiting for my butt kicking.  When I can’t walk straight next week, it’s DiAnna’s fault.  Reality is I may have gone if I’d had friends to go with me because someone has to have your back and as far as I know, no one I know was going or if I’d had more time to gear myself up.  In my head I’m a fantastic dancer and completely confident in a room of people who mostly know each other and I know none of them, but outside of my head I need dance lessons and a friend at least in the same town to rescue me if need be.
Instead I stayed at home, made sugar cookies for a neighbor’s birthday (isn’t a way to a man’s heart through his stomach?  I’m just perfecting my baking…) and visited with them for a little when we delivered it then came home to finish up crocheting headbands — from Christmas.  Josie’s just needs the flower sewn on and it’s my favorite, Bailie’s yarn didn’t work up well so I picked up the same color in a different weight and found  yarn as close to Josie’s vintage yarn as I could for Charlet but it’s wool and so soft.  It might turn into a hat and fingerless mittens for me.  Maybe.
Every time I’ve made these sugar cookies since I found/tweaked a recipe that gives me soft cookies that aren’t hard and hold their shape when baking I’ve been asked for the recipe so here it is — with a few side notes too, that’s what makes a recipe special after all.
They aren’t bunnies, they are sideways goldfish!  With big tails, they swim faster that way.

Ingredients
  • 5 1/2 C flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 C salted butter at room temperature if you only have unsalted butter toss 1/2 teaspoon salt in with the flour {don’t try to microwave it so it’s soft and don’t try to use it straight from the fridge.  If you are in a crazy use a food processor to get it broken down and then it will cream better.  and absolutely do.not.use.shortening.  Ever.  Even if it is butter flavored Crisco.  Just don’t do it.}
  • 1 C sour cream {yes, sour cream it’s delicious and wonderful and no one will know or be able to figure out why they’re so soft and perfect.  Your daughter’s teenage friends will raise and eyebrow, but they’re teenagers and they’ll cave in and try them}
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla {the better quality the vanilla the better the result.  Sugar cookies don’t have a lot of flavors otherwise so this recipe is one where I pull out the good stuff}
Directions
  • Sift together flour and baking soda {and salt if using unsalted butter} and set aside.  {if you have small children helping make sure they aren’t using a paddle spoon for this step or you will be sweeping up flour from everywhere}
  • Cream together butter, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  {go ahead and be picky about what order things go in for creaming, but I’ve never noticed a difference so they all go in together and it saves time}
  • Add flour mixture to creamed mixture slowly-ish.  About a couple of cup fulls at a time, not tablespoons or you’ll hate me because this will take forever and no one has all day just to make cookies!
  • Dough does need to go into the fridge for at least an hour or over night before rolling it out, divide it into half and wrap with saran wrap or use a plastic bag  {Again, this is a trust me thing.  If you make these without chilling the dough I don’t want to hear about how hard they were to roll out or how they lost their shape in the oven.  It’s an important step, go do some dishes or laundry — better yet, come do mine while the hour is passing}
  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Roll the dough out onto a heavily floured counter and cut into desired shapes.  I have Christmas and Thanksgiving shaped cookie cutters but I’m over Christmas, so I found one lonely Easter Bunny  sideways goldfish with a huge fin.  I always, always, always bake cookies on parchment paper.  It’s cheap, saves on dishes, and cookies bake more evenly. 
  • How long to bake will vary depending on oven, cookie thickness, and a little bit on cookie size.  I’d check them at 7 minutes, 5 or 6 if they are thin.  You want to pull them out of the oven just before the edges brown but make sure the middle of the cookie doesn’t look wet.  Pulling them out at the perfect time is key for softness.  My oven it’s 9 minutes for thick cookies, 8 for normal {no, I don’t have numbers to go with what I mean by that be grateful I have times, Mom’s recipes always say “bake in an oven until done”  I don’t know where else you’d bake, but my point is be grateful for how much I gave you} 
  • As for frosting.  Royal Icing will give you cuter cookies, but cream cheese or butter cream frosting tastes much better.  Taste wins in my book, nearly every time so I use cream cheese frosting — today from a can, frosting recipe will have to come another day.

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I tried to find an original source for this recipe and couldn’t. I made mine from a comment on a Pinterest picture. As typical for me I didn’t follow exactly. 
Chocolate Lasagna

Ingredients
1 package Oreos (not double stuff) crushed to crumbs. 
6 Tbsp melted butter
8 oz package cream cheese softened
1/4 C sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tub cool whip
1 large box chocolate pudding
Enough milk to mix pudding per pie directions
Mini chocolate chips
Directions

Mix butter and Oreo crumbs together and press into 9 X 13 pan or 2 square pans if you are taking dessert to someone who needs it.  Put into fridge then go start dinner rolls in bread machine. Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy then add in milk and sugar until it’s a bowl of cream cheese near heaven goodness. Fold in some cool whip. Recipe called for 1 1/4 C I think but I just scooped some. Spread it over crumb crust and put back into fridge. Get distracted while taking the trash out and putter around outside.  Mix pudding mix as per pie recipe directions and pour over cream cheese mixture spreading evenly then place in fridge for at least 5 minutes. Realize that you have a waterfall coming from the drainpipe under the kitchen sink. Sit and cry for a minute then go to work playing plumber. Spread the rest of the cool whip on top of the chocolate being careful to keep layers separate and not pull the chocolate up into the cool whip. Top with mini chocolate chips. Instructions said to freeze for 1 hour or refrigerate for 4 hours. I didn’t but it spent a lot of prep time in the fridge while I played plumber etc. 

This is a good dessert, nice and simple. I’m not a big fan of Cool Whip or boxed ingredients but it’s nice to have a trick recipe in your pocket now and then. I think I’d like chocolate curls ontop instead of the chips but if I’m going to the trouble of making chocolate curls they aren’t going on Cool Whip.  
I may or may not have snuck another piece into my bedroom to eat while writing this post. 
{Heather} 

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At the great cabin party ’13 I attempted to make Dutch Oven potatoes. It’s one of my favorite foods ever and I will occasionally make them in the crockpot. However, when we are having a dinner at the cabin the guys are in charge of cooking most things, including the potatoes. With that background the cabin party was a learning lesson. I forgot how long they take to cook, I forgot cheese but thought I’d sub with fresh curd and that was a bad idea, forgot the charcoal chimney to get charcoal for the top, didn’t keep an eye on the flame after I moved it to the camp chef and they burned.

Dutch oven potatoes aren’t difficult so I’m out to redeem myself. I had a long list of what went wrong but I wasn’t sure it was complete so I turn to Google research. People put strange things in dutch oven potatoes like dried fruit (?!?). That said, it is a very versatile recipe that you can add almost anything to, I guess including dried fruit. 
My dutch oven recipes never include measurements so good luck!
Dutch Oven Potatoes
1 package thick slice bacon, cut into about fourths
Onion either diced or thinly sliced (how much depends on you, my kids don’t love onions so I use about 1/4 but have enjoyed some with much more onion in it)
Potatoes  at least 1 large potato per person, great as leftovers so I always make a lot more. If using something with a soft skin (yukon gold or baby red) wash and slice.  If they have a tougher skin like russets I peel them then slice. A mandolin is perfect. 
Sprite at least a can, it’s cheaper to buy it in a 2-liter and I also use it in my dutch oven peach cobbler so that’s what I bring. 
Old Bay Seasoning
Grated cheese probably a cup depending on how many potatoes. Something that melts well, not curds. 

Cook bacon in dutch oven to the point it’s soft, not crispy.

Bacon! Yum!
Toss in the onions and sauté until clear. Enjoy the smell. 
Bacon and onions.  Best smell anywhere — except for fresh rain.
Place in potato, sprinkling with Old Bay season layered throughout. 
‘taters
Pour some sprite over top and place lid on and either put it in an oven heated to 350 or on coals/camp chef with coals on top. 

Check frequently for burning on the bottom, when potatoes are soft (very soft, I like them at the falling apart stage) cover with cheese and replace lid. You may need to add more sprite if the potatoes begin to dry out. 
Excuse me, dinner is ready.  Be back later.

Leftovers are great in the morning sautéed in a hot pan like hash browns. Redeemed!  These are wonderful
{Heather}

Nice and tidy printable version of Dutch Oven Potatoes

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There is something about a clean kitchen that screams to be used. That and my Pinterest addiction have found me in the depths of baking therapy. 

ICU is closed tonight and I’m second to be called in, so what better to do than bake grasshopper poke cake. 
Grasshopper Poke Cake

Ingredients
1-Chocolate cake mix, baked per instructions on box
1-can sweetened condensed milk
1- hot fudge (I think it was about 11 oz jar)
1 package Keebler grasshopper fudge cookies chopped (we ate some dipped in the cool whip and still had plenty of crumbs)
16 oz cool whip (real whipped cream doesn’t work well either)
1 package Duncan Hines mint frosting flavoring
1 cup Andes mint chocolate chips
Bake chocolate cake as usual and let cool. For ease I used a triple chocolate cake mix. I’m not certain why but poke cakes turn out better for me if the base is from a mix. 
When cool use the backside of a wooden spoon or clean dowel to poke holes into the cake. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top of cake, ensuring it covering into holes. 
Heat hot fudge until soft, mix in 1/2 of grasshopper cookies and spread over cake. 

Mix frosting flavor packet and cool whip (this is a good point to dip one of the cookies you set aside) then spread over top of fudge/cookie layer. 
Top with rest of cookies and Andes chips. Refrigerate overnight.  

We didn’t make it overnight, but I did wait until Charlet was home from Young Women’s. 
We did have a yummy skillet lasagna first, my house smelled delicious!

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One of things I manage to have mastered Mom Guilt over is food.  While entering survival mode this winter and trying to keep my head above water nutrition has turned to food and success was all too often “no one is hungry”  It’s not that my schedule is lightening up any or I’ve suddenly found a wonderful chunk of time to spend in the kitchen but I have set into motion freezer meals.

I bought the Once-A-Month-Cooking book years ago {I think I was still in school} and it seemed complex, time consuming {only for one day, but when you are working, have 3 kids in activities and in a BSN program you don’t have a full day — ever} and to be honest I never even tried it.  I wanted to join a group who already did it, had the kinks worked out and didn’t require me thinking and planning.  If you wanted to do all of their meals they have it broken down very nicely but some of the recipes didn’t sound like anything I was interested in but not doing that recipe for a few different ones would really throw off how streamline they made it.  Onto the bookshelf it went with a sigh full of wishes.

Now I have less time over all, but the kids are older and don’t need constant supervision and best of all I get time without much else scheduled in a chunk.

Toss into the mix the realization that I need to pull myself out of survival mode and do something and I had the idea of getting together with a friend and doing freezer meals.  I have the downstairs kitchen, there is a plethora of recipes on Pinterest for freezer crockpot meals which don’t require any pre-cooking and we’re good to go.  I’ve pulled out my stash of cookbooks to see what I can come up with, have been pinning like crazy and I am going to go spend tomorrow afternoon with Maria to plan this out.  I hope it goes well, or what doesn’t go well has an easy fix and next time we’ll invite some other friends who are interested.

I also pulled out my Make-A-Mix cookbook.  Yes, too much for one day, but there’s the week after that right?  I’m amazed at how much I find myself smiling today just because.  I’ve been more patient, happier, enjoyed the sunshine a little more {it doesn’t hurt that I was up before the sun was close to setting!}

Since I have an empty recipe section sitting up at the top I will post what we do, the recipes and any helpful hints we find.  We may even come across a few don’ts but I always learn more from the mistakes anyways.  Time to go switch laundry around and curl up with an episode of Criminal Minds and cookbooks.  Feel free to share your successes and/or failures if you’ve done this before.

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Laundry soap

I’ve been scrapping the bottom of the box of Tide for the last few loads of laundry and I dread buying laundry soap.  Scents to decide on, prices to groan over, the pretty scent with the soap that does nothing, not to mention being daring enough to try something new and having the kids skin react.

A while back Carmina mentioned she was going to make some laundry soap.  I’d tried that when Charlet was a baby but the big bucket of half gel, half goo, half liquid (yes, I can do math) was a pain and I didn’t get my yummy smells and it wasn’t wonderful on baby spit up marks.  Did I mention it was a pain?  I never tried it again, but several years ago I came across a recipe for powdered laundry detergent.

One problem, I couldn’t find Washing Soda anywhere.

I’ve since been using washing soda as a booster in the laundry but had long forgotten about the recipe until Mina reminded me.  So today on my day off, without kids, with nothing else planned or demanded of me I chose to spend my me time making laundry detergent.  Yes, I know — I have no social life.

Now my house smells of jasmine and laundry is piling up for me to fold (why oh why can’t there be a laundry detergent recipe that folds the laundry too????)

Laundry Detergent

1 box Borax
1 box Baking Soda (4 lb)
1 box Washing Soda (4 lb)
3 bars fels naptha soap
3 lbs oxyclean (or equivalent–I used a cheap equivalent)
 essential oils if desired (I desired)

Dump baking soda in a big container (I used the roaster pan, other people use 5 gallon buckets but I didn’t have one empty) and drop in the essential oils (I didn’t measure) and let sit while preparing the fels naptha.  I grated the fels naptha in the food processor (which I had to replace, mine broke mid-project but it’s just barely been hanging on since last years mass grate and freeze episode) then processed it so that the soap was in tiny bits.  Pour everything into the pan with the baking soda, mix well and store.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  I have mine is a pretty glass jar from Wal-mart and I use the tiny scoop from the oxyclean.

Enjoy the laundry. (ha! I can pretend, right?)

I got the recipe from Being Creative Blog It wasn’t the first place I saw it, but I never followed their link to the original source and I couldn’t find that blog again.  I also added some jasmine essential oils.  Maybe at some point I’ll pull out the camera and make these posts a little more interesting but for now you can go to the link and see her pictures.

As for how it works, it has Kaede’s playground dirty pants clean, socks that the kids ran outside in the mud in white, and scrubs that had…well, never mind the details there.  Scrubs are clean and fresh smelling too.

I have plenty of fabric softener for the time being but when I run out I’m making my own.

~Heather

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